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N.C. EMS gets new stretchers, protective gear

Commissioners approved purchases of Stryker 3506 Power Cots and protective coats, pants gloves and helmets for EMTs

By Kitsey E. Burns
The Yadkin Ripple

YADKINVILLE, N.C. — On Monday, Yadkin County commissioners approved several purchases aimed as easing some of the heavy lifting and providing additional protection for the more than 60 full and part-time emergency medical technicians that serve the county. The commissioners got a first-hand look at the newest model of ambulance stretcher with hydraulic lift that will reduce back strain on EMS workers transporting patients.

Yadkin EMS Director Keith Vestal and Capt. Tim Hawks demonstrated the way the current stretchers are operated which require an EMT to manually lift the patient on the stretcher when loading into the ambulance. Tim Richardson, a representative from stretcher manufacturing company Stryker, demonstrated the new model 6506 Power Cot which allows the patient to be lifted with the push of a button which activates a hydraulic motor.

The purchase price of the new model is nearly double the cost of manually operated stretchers, but County Manager Aaron Church said that “one of the main reasons for spending this much is to reduce back accidents which in the long run we think may save money on workers’ compensation because we do have a lot of workers’ comp in EMS.”

Also approved on Monday was the purchase of new protective gear including coats, pants, gloves and helmets for EMTs to wear when working in dangerous conditions, particularly those involving crashed motor vehicles.

“When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident we quite often have to get in the car and stabilize them with medications, IVs or splints while they are being extricated or cut out of the car,” Vestal explained. “We have had injuries in years past from cuts and scrapes from the medics getting into these vehicles.”

Vestal said that while the fire service and rescue squad members have protective gear to use in these situations, the EMS medics do not and could be in danger in these situations of getting cut on the metal or glass from the crashed vehicle and even potential flash fires that may occur. The new gear will provide protection from these types of injuries and also includes reflective striping which will aid in visibility of the medics while on accident scenes near roadways.

Per a request from Yadkin County Schools, the commissioners also approved funding some emergency capital improvement projects including window replacements and a new roof on the cafeteria building at Courtney Elementary School, a new roof for the cafeteria kitchen at Forbush High School and some needed updates at both Forbush and Starmount high schools in order for the schools to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Funds also were approved to replace a number of outdated computers in county offices and renewal of a software contract that supports the virtual servers used by the county’s IT department.

The next meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners will be June 2 at 9 a.m.