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New Equipment Aids Ambulance Crews
Now in service, a special Stryker gurney, which provides a power assisted rather than a manual lift, is making the job a bit easier for Escalon Community Ambulance personnel. Plus, the design is easier on patients as well, with a knee catch built in to the gurney that relieves the pressure off a patient's lower back as they are riding in the ambulance.

"The board had approved the purchase," Escalon Community Ambulance Manager Mike Pitassi said of the new gurney. We got two of them, actually."

The gurneys have a lift capacity of 700 pounds but now it won't be the crews having to do the lifting. Instead, the gurney itself will provide the lift, meaning fewer back injuries for personnel and a smoother transition into the ambulance for the patient.

"I had requested one from the board and we talked about eventually getting a second one," Pitassi said of procuring the state-of-the-art gurneys.

When quotes came in, Pitassi felt it was feasible to purchase one and finance the other. The price was right, though, on demonstrator models so board members authorized the purchase of two of the gurneys outright, rather than one now and one later.

"They said if we have the money to do it, we should do it," Pitassi said. "It would mean a long term cost savings."

Purchasing both now, instead of financing one, will save the ambulance service money and both are already in service.

"It cost us $25,000 for the two of them," Pitassi added. "And the biggest factor, physically, is that crews can now lift up to 700 pounds power assisted. There have been studies that have shown how this cuts down on back injuries."

Pitassi said that some funds for the new gurneys were included in the budget, with additional funding coming from the community itself.

"Part of the 2008-2009 fund drive, this is what their money helped pay for," he said. "I was the first one to use them and I love having the power assist, I wish I'd had them back in 1975 when I started."

The Stryker Power Pro gurneys will help both the crews and patients be safer, Pitassi added, and they don't require any specialized battery to run the unit, so the batteries are easily replaceable.

"They are on our two primary emergency response ambulances," Pitassi said. "Once again, the public can see how their dollars are being spent."