Posted on 10/25/2012, 10:30 am, by mySteinbach

As part of the province’s commitment to improving workplace safety for health professionals and reducing workplace injuries, paramedics will test new power lift stretchers in several ambulances across the province. This announcement was made by Health Minister Theresa Oswald.

“Paramedics work tirelessly to ensure patients get the care they need during an emergency. Their jobs aren’t easy; they are very physical and demanding. This pilot project will determine how the new power lift stretchers can help avoid paramedic injuries in the field, ensuring they can focus on delivering the exemplary life-saving care Manitoba families have come to expect,” Oswald said.

A basic manual stretcher costs about $4,000 while a power assisted stretcher is several thousands of dollars more, Oswald said, noting the pilot project will help ensure the province makes the best investment to support paramedics.

“It is important to ensure paramedics have equipment that allows them to provide the maximum care to patients and reduce personal injury,” said Kathy McPhail, CEO, Southern Regional Health Authority. “The impact of these enhancements will be felt on the front line leading to better health-care delivery and safer working conditions.”

Emergency medical service providers, including paramedics, aero-medical attendants, pilots, medical first responders, dispatchers, firefighters and police, respond to more than 450 calls every day – over 165,000 calls every year – for emergency medical help in Manitoba.

“This pilot project sends a strong message to our paramedics that this government is aware of the issue involved and that concrete steps are being taken to ensure we’re doing the due diligence necessary, through projects like this, to address this serious workplace issue,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.

Oswald noted the province has made several investments to improve workplace safety including installing lifts in personal-care homes, providing training on safe patient handling and putting in place new regulations to prevent workplace violence. These efforts have helped reduce Worker’s Compensation Board premiums by nearly $1 million annually, she added.

“Improving workplace safety supports our front-line health-care professionals so they can be at work delivering the care patients need and it also helps to reduce the cost of delivering health care at the same time,” Oswald said. “Reducing workplace injuries is an important part of our Plan to Protect Universal Health Care.”

The Manitoba government’s Plan to Protect Universal Health Care, Focused on What Matters Most, is available at