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Dare County EMS gets new powered stair chair to help in elevated home emergencies

Dare County officials posing for a picture with the new powered chair.
Dare County EMS
/
Submitted Image
Dare County officials posing for a picture with the new powered chair.

Dare County Emergency Medical Services has received a new powered stair chair to help in emergencies, especially in elevated homes.

It's also expected to help reduce lifting injuries among first responders. Some common injuries include upper and lower spinal back issues as well as twisted knees and ankles.

“The chair costs up to $20,000 but is still the most cost-efficient thing to do for the department,” said Jennie Collins, the Chief of Dare County EMS. “When we were looking at making this recommendation to move toward this, we had probably upwards of a couple $100,000 of worker injuries that were attributed to the lifting and moving patients where a powered stair chair would have helped.”

EMS workers moving a person down the stairs on the powered stair chair.
Dare County EMS
/
Submitted Image
EMS workers moving a person down the stairs on the powered stair chair.

The new chair has big wheels and a track to move it up and down stairs by a button. It takes two people to operate it: one at the front by a patient’s feet and the other at the back by the patient’s head.

Collins said the powered chair is a critical need to have on an ambulance, with so many elevated homes in Dare County, along with exterior and interior staircases.

“Many homes are built up on stilts and so there's stairs to get up,” she said. “Not all of them have elevators in the homes [and] very few homes actually do. So, there is a lot of carrying those up and down the staircases and then you have commercial establishments that are also elevated.”

Dare County officials said the chair was purchased and privately donated by a resident named James Spruill, who saw the need after riding along with first responders as part of an EMT course. Collins hopes to have money approved in a future budget request moving forward for more chairs.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.