Yarmouth Fire Department receives FEMA Assistance To Firefighters Grant

– In June, the Yarmouth Fire Department was notified that they were approved for award for the FY 2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grant.  The grant is for $191,404.00 and will used to purchase 4 Stryker Power-Pro Stretchers and 4 Power-Load Systems.

The Stryker Power-Pro Stretcher is a battery-powered hydraulic system that raises and lowers the stretcher at a touch of a button. The Stryker Power-Load System improves operator and patient safety by supporting the stretcher throughout the loading and unloading process.

The most obvious benefit would be to reduce the number of injuries to our first responders while loading and unloading patients. If this funding saves one first responder from getting injured, and the families losing a steady income, there is just no dollar amount that can be put on that situation.

Each year, the Yarmouth Fire Department experiences between 12 and 20 (15 average) instances of personnel suffering a line of duty injury, of which almost all are related to repetitive lifting injuries from loading and unloading patients. With the Stryker Stretcher lifting system we hope to reduce this rate of injury by 75% and save the Department approximately $67,000 annually.

In addition to the direct financial cost-benefit, there are many indirect considerations, many of which could have significant, direct financial impact but are not easily measured. These include:
1. Savings realized from utilizing this equipment will be re-purposed to enhance their departmental equipment, supplies and technology budgets which will further improve patient quality of care and departmental operational effectiveness.
2. Improve quality of life for first responders by minimizing injury, or fear of injury
3. Minimize family disruption and anxiety which results from line of duty injury
4. Improve each shifts operational effectiveness
5. Minimize risk of patient injury and maximize patient care
6. Minimize risk of injury leading to early disability retirements of personnel. This has occurred twice in the last two years to relatively young personnel, at a significant lifetime cost to the town.

Receiving this one-time grant award represents a significant opportunity to make a permanent, substantial impact on our services, while at the same time minimizing the impact to our financially sensitive and vulnerable taxpayers.

This was Yarmouth’s second attempt at this grant, with help from the towns IT and Finance Department we were successful. The Yarmouth Fire Department would like to thank Mr. John Morse, IT Projects Manager and Rich Bienvenue, Town Accountant. 
Media release furnished by Yarmouth Fire

Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Sawyer released the following statement at a press briefing Monday morning:
“I recently read an EMS World article about preventing back injuries. Nearly 25% of all EMS workers experience career-ending back injuries within the first four years of their career.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors EMS workers’ injuries, and in the most recent data set available, more than 27,000 EMS workers experienced on-the-job injuries and illnesses, and more than 21% of those injuries were to the lower back.4

Each year back injuries cost the economy nearly $50 billion in direct medical bills and lost revenue, and $20 billion of this cost is in injuries related to the healthcare profession. This exceeds the cost of back injuries in construction, mining and manufacturing. Each individual back sprain carries an anticipated direct cost of just over $18,000 in physician and medical bills, lost income and employer costs.

Back injuries obviously affect staffing and overtime but it also interferes in nearly every aspect of daily living. Overtime shifts are not only expensive, they also drive up provider fatigue, increasing healthy staff members’ risk of injury.

It is estimated that more than half (62%) of all prehospital provider back injuries result from lifting patients. Injuries are a consequence of three major factors: significant lifting forces (patient weight), repetitive movements and awkward positions. Back injury reduction requires training, lifting equipment and advice. Going a step further the Yarmouth Fire Department plans on creating a comprehensive back injury-prevention program that will hopefully reduce injuries and costs associated with those injuries.

Consider all the lifts that can occur on a routine patient transport; the minimum number of lifts that can be anticipated is five:

1) Lifting the patient from the floor to the stretcher
2) Bringing the stretcher to waist height
3) Loading the stretcher into the ambulance
4) Unloading the stretcher from the ambulance
5) Transferring the patient from the stretcher to the hospital bed
The Stryker Stretcher Lift System eliminates number 2,3 & 4

At Austin-Travis County EMS in Texas, back injury rates decreased from 61% to 29% following the 2006 implementation of power stretchers. One study demonstrated that the introduction of powered stretchers reduced stretcher-related back-injury workers’ compensation filings by 41%. In this study the powered model replaced all manual-lift stretchers in a large urban EMS system. The insurance company monitored workers’ compensation claims related to use of stretchers. Claim costs dropped by 49%, lost days by nearly 68%, and restricted days by 70%. This two-year reduction offset the costs of the initial stretcher purchases.

Yarmouth Fire Department already uses modern stair chairs. The new redesign of stair chairs over the past decade has also revolutionized lifting. Manufacturers have added traction-control rails and all but eliminated the need to actually lift the stair chair and patient. The rail systems allow the chair to be slid down the stairs in a controlled manner, greatly reducing compression forces on provider spines. Several EMS systems, as reported on manufacturers’ websites, have reported that these stair chairs have dropped their house/apartment extrication-related back injury rates to near zero.

Yarmouth Fire Department has also purchased Slide Boards. Slide boards are smooth devices designed to reduce the friction between a patient and a flat surface during lateral moves. They are typically made of smooth plastic or vinyl.”

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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