Portsmouth firefighters get new patient cot system

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PORTSMOUTH — Thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department, the fire station now has an advanced patient cot fastening system for two of the town’s ambulances.

Deputy Chief Michael O’Brien said the equipment is designed to protect responders from lift injuries, while providing patients with safer transportation to the hospital. That in turn will save taxpayers on injury-related expenses in the future, he said.

“Portsmouth Fire Department responded to approximately 2,000 medical emergencies last year — a number which has steadily grown from year to year,” the deputy chief said. “Most of these medical emergencies involve lifting a patient multiple times, each event creating the potential for an injury to one of our firefighters. Exacerbating the potential for a firefighter injury is the ever-increasing average weight of our patients; statistical data shows that 69 percent of all Americans are considered overweight.”

The patient cots, manufactured by Stryker EMS, use a battery powered hydraulic motor to raise and lower the patients, minimizing the lifting performed by firefighters. These cots are paired with a lifting system that has been installed in the patient compartment of the ambulances. This lifting system, called Styker Power Load, captures the patient cot and lifts the cot and patient into the ambulance. The device will allow a single firefighter to load patients weighing less than 700 pounds into an ambulance with only the push of some buttons.

The new system will also better protect patients transported by Portsmouth Ambulance in the event of a crash. “The cot fastening system is the first crash-tested assembly the Portsmouth Fire Department has ever used,” said the deputy chief.

The grant for the new system is notable because just within the last year, the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department announced it would soon cease to exist due to the lack of incoming donations. Following that announcement, donations continued to flow in to the organization, Deputy O’Brien said.

“True to their mission, the Portsmouth Volunteer Fire Department has used those donations to relieve some of the burden to Portsmouth taxpayers,” he said.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.