TIPS FROM THE TRAINER by Tom Cox
At the recent EMS World Expo in Las Vegas, several Ferno products commanded attention. But with one demonstration, our EZ Glide® Stair Chair with PowerTraxx™ may have stolen the show.
A staff member from a neighboring vendor’s booth asked a simple question: Could PowerTraxx move a man of his size (505 pounds) up and down stairs? The system is rated at 500 pounds, so we gave it a go. A crowd gathered to watch the demonstration. Several people used their Smartphones to capture it on video. There was even a round of applause as we moved the man up and down the stairs with virtually no effort!
While modern technology allows us to accomplish great things, EMS providers still need to think through the situation and come up with a plan of attack. The powered portion of the event is probably the easiest part. It’s the manipulation of the chair just before you begin the climb or descent that can make your job easier and safer. Here are a few tips:
Leave some room between the chair and the first step
Many would load the patient and simply back the chair up to the first step and then lean it back. That might be fine, but you’ll still have to do some lifting while in a poor ergonomic position to make both tracks engage the steps. A better way is to move the chair about a chair’s length away from the step and then tilt it back, allowing the tracks to engage the floor. From there, you can apply gradual power to allow the chair to “crawl” to the step; already in the proper position to climb in the most advantageous angle.
Keep using power in the “landing zone”
At the top of the stairs, continue to power the chair until you are about a chair’s length past the top step, if you can. Slowly, with your partner guiding the foot handles, lower the chair onto all four wheels. This “landing zone” approach also allows the operators to do minimal lifting, while maintaining good ergonomics as you climb and descend steps.
Keep the chair straight
If you can, avoid turning the chair left or right when the tracks are touching the ground with a patient onboard. Doing this causes twisting factors that can eventually cause damage to the tracks themselves. If you need to go left or right, make sure all four wheels are on the ground and then turn the chair in the direction you wish to go.
Products like the EZ Glide with PowerTraxx Stair Chair truly make life easier for both you and your patients. Just remember that preparing for ascent or descent is as important as the actual climb. Good technique protects not only the health and safety of the patient, but the health and safety of the providers as well.
Training for these types of events is critical. Simply put, you perform the way you practice!
EZ Glide® is a registered trademark and PowerTraxxTM is a trademark of Ferno-Washington, Inc.