New equipment makes a safer workplace for paramedics

The Alberta Government is investing $20-million to equip ground ambulances with power lifts

Paramedics Kaitlyn Kowalkowski and Richard Norton with the power stretchers and load system. Photo by Alberta Health Services

More than 350 ground ambulances with Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be equipped with new power stretchers and load systems.

The provincial government is investing $20-million ground ambulances with the power lifts.

The equipment will be made standard in all new ambulances.

The new equipment will help to reduce injuries to Albertan paramedics.

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne said the addition of the new equipment will make for a safer workplace for all Alberta paramedics.

“Alberta paramedics dedicate their work every day to saving lives. We want to make sure they can perform their jobs without risk of injury,” said Payne.

Because the new lifts will reduce the frequency of of crews physically lifting patients in and out of ambulances, their risk of injury is greatly reduced.

The leading cause of injury for paramedics is said to be from repetitive lifting patients.

In 2015, AHS installed power stretchers and lifts in eight inter-facility transfer vehicles as a pilot program. During the pilot, there was not a single lift-related injury reported by staff using the equipment.

During the 18-month pilot, Alberta Health Services reports 84 “patient-handling injuring” among EMS staff working without the lifts.

“Protecting the health and safety of our staff is one of our top priorities. Every employee deserves to work in the safest environment possible and it is our job to ensure that happens,” said Verna You, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services.

Installation of the new equipment will being this summer across the provinces. The installation is expected to be complete by next spring.