Piedmont Medical Center ambulances fitted with power stretchers

(Kristi O'Connor | WBTV)
(Kristi O'Connor | WBTV)

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - Piedmont Medical Center is in the process of replacing its entire fleet of stretchers with hydraulically driven power stretchers.

"They work hydraulically off of batteries so they will actually raise or lower themselves with controls obviously," Director of EMS for Piedmont Medical Center Eric Morrison said.

The power stretchers are expected to make the transportation process much smoother and safer for the patient.

"Historically, unfortunately, there weren't a lot of crash tests on ambulances to make sure they were as safe as they could be. That standard has started changing," Morrison said. "These rails have been crash tested, they are going to keep this stretcher in place when a crash happens."

The power stretchers have adjustable rails, allowing for a wider or tighter space depending on the patient.

Those who may see the most immediate change is the paramedics themselves. Morrison says the manual stretcher weighs 120 pounds, they typically have 40 to 50 pounds of equipment and then the weight of the patient to carry.

"For every patient, we move the stretcher about 8 times," Morrison said. "We take it out, we take it in the house. We lower it down, put the patient up, take them into the truck, load them out of the truck and into the hospital."

He says in the long-run it will ease the stress and pains on paramedics. Transport times are expected to be the same, if not faster.

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