The ambulance retrofitting, which cost about $12,000, bears testament to the increase in morbidly obese patients and the wrenched backs and necks sustained by emergency medical technicians and paramedics straining to lift them. Most weeks, Boston rescue crews ferry two to four patients weighing at least 450 pounds.
“With a 300-pound patient, it’s not too bad, or even 400 pounds,’’ said Jose A. Archila, a Boston EMS captain. “But to be honest with you, with a 500-, 600-, 700-pound patient — it’s just too much for you.’’
The vehicle, which at first glance doesn’t appear different from the trucks routinely plying the city’s roads, also carries a stretcher capable of shouldering 850 pounds. The stretcher costs $8,000.
The ambulance is the latest piece of medical equipment to be adapted for transporting and treating extremely overweight patients, a population that rose 75 percent nationally from 2000 to 2005. Already in Boston hospitals, the beds are bigger and so are the wheelchairs and, sometimes, even the hallways.
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