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Is America's obesity rate affecting the EMS industry?

Posted by Scott Millen on Jan 3, 2017 5:26:50 PM

If the words gumbo, grits and beignets are part of your daily vocabulary, and you work in the EMS field, your back might be getting more of a workout than its muscles can handle. That’s because your home state of Louisiana has the highest prevalence of obesity by percentage of population in the United States at 36.2, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Not far behind Louisiana is another Southern state – Alabama at 35.6.

Americans are 15 pounds heavier, on average, than they were 20 years ago, which tells only part of the story. That increase in weight equates to two-thirds of people living in the U.S. designated as overweight and obese. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) “68.8 percent of adults are considered to be overweight or obese; more than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese; and “almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese.”

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Prevalence of Obesity by State


The Physical Activity Council believes low activity levels are partially responsible for the increase in weight, “The overall levels of inactivity decreased marginally in the last 12 months from 28.3% of Americans age six and older in 2014 to 27.7% in 2015. However, there are still 81.6 million inactive Americans.”

That is about 25 percent of Americans sitting around doing nothing. With those kinds of statistics, paramedics are assured that a high percentage of calls will involve an overweight or obese patient. For medics still using a traditional cot, the possibility of back stress and strain are good. Repeated injuries can lead to time lost at work and even long-term medical conditions. Unlike power cots, traditional cots must be manually raised and lowered, then manually lifted into the ambulance, repeating the exercise in reverse when delivering the injured to a medical facility.

The iN∫X™ Integrated Patient Transport & Loading System

Ferno, an international manufacturer of EMS products and equipment, developed the iN∫X™ Integrated Patient Transport & Loading System. Introduced as the only system proven to effectively eliminate lifting, it has earned praise from users in the field. According to an independent research study, the iN∫X™ reduces strain, helps to maintain proper body mechanics while loading and unloading the ambulance, and while moving patients.

“The iN∫X™ is a powerful solution for transporting patients,” says Jason Wender, Director of Global Marketing. “What makes it extremely important to EMS is the technology. The independent X-Frame design allows operators to lift and load the patient for the medic using a chain-drive mechanism.”

Researchers behind the Ergonomic Analysis of Power Cots “studied EMTs and paramedics loading and unloading variable patient weights (100/150/200lbs).” Concluding, “The iN∫X™ design has a direct impact on the external loads operators experience, internal muscle activation required to counteract those loads, and subjective perceptions of exertion. Operators do not have to support the weight of the cot and patient during loading and unloading. The iN∫X™ nullifies the effects from increases in patient weight.”

So even if you live in Colorado (20.2 prevalence of obesity) or the District of Columbia (22.1), where the prevalence of obesity is low, it’s important to remember that repeated lifting can have a lasting effect on EMS and families. A back injury averages over $20,000 in direct costs and 90 days of lost time at work, a realization that neither agencies or individuals can afford.

Topics: EMS Injury Risks

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