November 05, 2008 11:00pm
THE Queensland Government is purchasing super-sized ambulances
with hydraulic lifts to cope with an increasing number of obese
Service medical director Stephen Rashford confirmed the move
yesterday, saying it was necessary to be able to transport extremely
obese patients safely as well as to "protect staff".
Two of the ambulances are expected to be operational in Brisbane, and
one in Townsville, by the end of the financial year.
Each vehicle costs about $200,000, double the price of ambulances
already in use.
Paramedics have welcomed the decision, saying the obesity epidemic has
resulted in some cases having to be transported on the backs of utes.
Ambulance union state
organiser Jason Dutton said having mega-sized vehicles fitted with
lifts was an important workplace health and safety issue for officers.
"We have ambos hurting themselves all the time because of lifting," he
Queensland Health also has recently purchased two hydraulic lifts,
capable of handling weights of up to 500kg, for its Coopers Plains
morgue, on Brisbane's southside, where the incidence of extremely obese
bodies has been on the rise.
Coping with the obesity epidemic is putting an increasing burden on an
already strained health system.
In April, an RAAF Hercules had to be flown from Sydney to Mount Isa to
transport a 258kg patient to Townsville for an operation estimated to
have cost $250,000.
Careflight doctor Stefan Mazur, who was involved in the case, said
difficult medical retrievals for super-sized patients were likely to
become more frequent.
"We are getting patients quite regularly who are 180kg," he said.
Australian Medical Association
Queensland president Chris Davis called on governments to invest
more in preventative healthcare.
Dr Davis said overweight people were at increased risk of heart
disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and even dementia.