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Air ambulance planes retrofitted for bariatric patients

Alkan Air makes plane doors wider and purchased a mechanical lift to transfer patients weighing over 350 pounds

WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Alkan Air has been retrofitting an increasing number of planes to transport bariatric patients.

Jeff Simons, acting director of emergency Medical Services Yukon, said in 2010 there were only five bariatric medevacs in the territory, CBC News reports.

“Since January of this year we’ve done nine, so it gives you an idea of the scope we are talking about,” he said. “We’ve been tracking this sub-specialty and need for equipment for a number of years.

Alkan Air installed a larger door in a King Air 350 aircraft, and the Yukon government purchased a mechanical lift to carry patients weighing more than 350 pounds.

Bariatric patients in Yukon are currently transported using planes from Alberta or British Columbia, but they often aren’t able to land in many of the small communities. In those cases, Yukon EMS uses a local Hawker Siddeley cargo aircraft with the seats removed.

Simons said new bariatric planes will allow the territory to be less reliant on resources from outside Yukon. The bariatric medevac will start transporting patients later this spring after crews receive training.