Oct 25, 2012

Manitoba paramedics to test new power lift stretchers

Testing will help improve workplace safety for health professionals: Minister

Paramedics will test new power lift stretchers in several ambulances across Manitoba as part of the province's commitment to improving workplace safety for health professionals and reducing workplace injuries, said Health Minister Theresa Oswald.

"Paramedics work tirelessly to ensure patients get the care they need during an emergency," Oswald said. “This pilot project will determine how the new power lift stretchers can help avoid paramedic injuries in the field, ensuring they can focus on delivering the exemplary life-saving care Manitoba families have come to expect.”

A basic manual stretcher costs about $4,000 while a power assisted stretcher is several thousands of dollars more, Oswald said, noting the pilot project will help ensure the province makes the best investment to support paramedics.

"It is important to ensure paramedics have equipment that allows them to provide the maximum care to patients and reduce personal injury," said Southern Regional Health Authority CEO Kathy McPhail. "The impact of these enhancements will be felt on the front line leading to better health-care delivery and safer working conditions."

Emergency medical service providers, including paramedics, aero-medical attendants, pilots, medical first responders, dispatchers, firefighters and police, respond to more than 450 calls every day — more than 165,000 calls every year — for emergency medical help in Manitoba.

Manitoba has made several investments to improve workplace safety including installing lifts in personal-care homes, providing training on safe patient handling and putting in place new regulations to prevent workplace violence, according to Oswald. These efforts have helped reduce Workers Compensation Board premiums by nearly $1 million annually, she said.

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