Paramedics and firefighters don’t need to read recent studies of obesity on the rise in America, the subject weighs heavy on their shoulders every day, the Washington Post reported.

Hospital calls for patients weighing 350 pounds or more come on a daily basis in the D.C. area. Even patients weighing as much as 600 pounds are common every few months for emergency teams.

"I think everyone has struggled with this issue, and technology is just now coming to grips with it," said Christine Louder, Fairfax deputy fire chief.

Across the country, hospitals and ambulance companies have been struggling to adapt to plus-size patients. Specialty equipment has been added to many facilities for transporting these patients, along with training to avoid back injuries.

Communities nationwide, including Topeka, Kan., are charging nearly double to transport patients who weigh more than 350 pounds. The goal is to cover the cost of equipment specially purchased for these patients. Area departments are part of a buying trend expected to double sales of specialty equipment by 2012.

Even improvements like wider cots and hydraulic lifts are not enough once a patient exceeds 700 pounds, a group that has become a new focus for health care professionals.

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