Hi-tech ambulances protecting Avon Lake firefighter-paramedics

A paramedic levy is helping bring new technology to Avon Lake Fire Department. (Source: WOIO)
A paramedic levy is helping bring new technology to Avon Lake Fire Department. (Source: WOIO)

AVON LAKE, OH (WOIO) - Firefighters and paramedics are put to the test with every call they respond to and sometimes their own health is at risk. In Avon Lake, new technology is being used to lift some of that burden.

"One of the biggest work place injuries associated with EMS is back injuries and with that is lifting," said Lt. Jeremy Betsa.

Betsa said workers' backs, knees and joints take on extra stress when it comes to maneuvering cots or medical stretchers. The repetitive action of unloading the cots from ambulances, lowering and raising wheel mechanisms and getting patients back into emergency vehicles can be taxing.

Power cots and hydraulic lifts are easing some of that burden.

"We're reducing those hundreds of lifts per day- with patient weight which helps reduce our back strain and our joint damage." Betsa said.

The motorized cots use on a track inside the ambulance. With the push of a button the bed is able to glide in and out of the emergency vehicle. Battery power allows the cots' legs and wheels to lower- eliminating the need for paramedics to manually do the work.

"The power lift on the cot itself actually takes the weight of the cot and the patient and pulls it up into the air and actually slides into the ambulance," Betsa said. "A lot of departments are starting to go to this. It's a cost thing for many departments. "You get back injuries or knee injuries-- whatever the case -- those cost a lot more money than the power cot and the load system themselves."

The system has been in operation on one of the department's three ambulances for about a year.
Chief Chris Huerner is happy to get $90,000 to outfit the department's remaining two ambulances.

"I had a lot of cooperation from the mayor and council members for this project," Huerner said.

A paramedic levy is covering the costs. The technology should be in place in the next 6 to 8 weeks.

"This technology that we're seeing today is incredible," Betsa said. "It's making the whole trip safer."

As aging workers retire, Betsa offered advice for those entering the field.

"Education, education, education and experience," Betsa said. "There's a lot of departments out there that run on a volunteer basis. That's a great way to get experience and it helps out communities."

Huerner said the career is a rewarding on a daily basis.

"We get a lot of comments back from the residents. We get letters and people thanking us for everything we do," Huerner said. "And that really for me is really what it's all about. When you get that appreciation back from the residents and you're able to help somebody that in itself is worthwhile."

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.