B.C.’s fleet of ambulances are being outfitted with new stretchers.
The state-of-the-art mechanized stretchers are expected to come in by December 2018 and cost $20,000 each.
The province says the new stretchers will cause fewer injuries to paramedics as they automatically lift patients.
Executive Vice-President of BC Emergency Health Services Linda Lupini said the financial payback will also be significant.
“We were paying in the millions for our WorkSafe premiums but it’s most important for our paramedics. This will extend their careers, this will keep them at work and prevent injuries,” she said.
“The overall benefit for the public and patients is having paramedics at work and not at home with difficult injuries.”
These additions will also aid patients as stretchers will be more comfortable, according to paramedics.
“The patients are tucked in really cozy, it’s very nice. They are truly manna from God, they are amazing,” said long-time paramedic Marilyn Oberg.
Oberg said she has suffered multiple back injuries due to lifting over the years.
“The first day I walked into the area where they were being deployed and we were learning how to teach people how to use them, I literally walked into the room and started to cry,” she said.
The latest stats show that in 2014 BC Ambulance lost 20,000 days of paramedics on the job as a result of injury.
Five-hundred and seven of the new stretchers will be installed by the end of next year, with Metro Vancouver receiving the first shipment because it has the highest call volume.
With files from Janet Brown