Equipment to help reduce EMT workplace injuries

As part of an effort to reduce workplace injury for emergency medical technicians, New London Hospital has purchased ergonomic equipment for its emergency medical services personnel.

The purchase, funded in-part by a grant through the Workplace Injury Reduction Program of the state Labor Department, includes the acquisition of specially designed ambulance stretchers and stair chairs.

By the nature of their jobs, emergency medical services personnel are sometimes placed in hazardous situations. For example, patient transport in stairways is a common task that has a high reported back injury rate by EMTs.

The physical strain of maneuvering patients in a tight environment like a stairway contributes to a high number of injuries — awkward body postures when handling patients has been identified as one of the main contributors to back injury, for example.

“These special stretchers are designed to be lightweight and durable,” said Kent Wheeler, the hospital’s director of emergency services. “Their structure reinforces proper lifting technique and the oversized wheels make maneuvering in all types of terrain easier and safer.”

In addition to the stretchers, the hospital acquired stair chairs used for patient transport down flights of stairs. The chairs are equipped with an innovative tread system that allows the operator to control movement down stairs without lifting.

The purchase of this emergency equipment is the second phase of the hospital’s efforts to reduce workplace injury. The first phase involved its Clough Extended Care Center. The hospital acquired a wheelchair capable of being used in the shower, and of being wheeled onto a scale. To promote proper lifting techniques, a special lift for patients also was acquired, which resulted in a dramatic reduction of workplace and patient injuries, said Wheeler.

A third piece of equipment that has helped reduce lifting-related injuries is the new patient scale designed to be used with the patient remaining in a wheel chair, he said.

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