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McLean group wants additional safeguards in county ambulances

Move to power-loading cots would prevent injuries to medical personnel and patients, MCA resolution says

The McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors adopted a resolution July 3 urging Fairfax County officials to purchase power-load cots for the county government’s entire fleet of medical-transport vehicles to reduce injuries to patients and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel.

Manually loaded cots have produced on-the-job injuries for 60 Fairfax County fire/EMS workers over the past six years, according to MCA’s data. Several patients also have been hurt, it noted.

Adopting power-load cots, which use hydraulics, would reduce the chance of people being hurt and lower the county’s worker-compensation claims and potential liability from cot drops as well, the resolution read.

Rescue personnel are most likely to hurt their knees, shoulders, backs, necks and ankles when manipulating the cots with patients aboard. Nine coordinated lift sequences typically are required per patient, according to MCA’s resolution.

The MCA board encouraged county officials to pursue state and federal matching grants to aid in the process of purchasing the cots.

All surrounding jurisdictions, as well as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, outfit 100 percent of their frontline (career personnel) transport units with power-load cots, as well as some or all of the vehicles in their reserve (volunteer) fleets, according to the MCA.

“From a recruitment standpoint, it’s a bit of a challenge because other jurisdictions have this. We don’t have it,” said Raj Mehra, who serves on MCA’s Budget & Taxation Committee.

Only volunteer fire departments in McLean and Springfield have power-load cots, which they purchased themselves, he said.

It costs about $85,000 to outfit a transport vehicle with a power-load cot, which is more expensive than manual cots. Providing power-load equipment on all 64 vehicles in Fairfax County’s transport fleet would cost between $4.5 million and $5.8 million, MCA’s resolution read.