Patients as Large as 800-Pounds Forcing Nebraska, Iowa Paramedics to Get Creative

Paramedics are presented with different challenges everyday – but for workers in Nebraska and Iowa – they seem to be facing some even "bigger" challenges.

With obesity rates on the rise in those states, paramedics are scrambling to find ways to transport 400-pound, 600-pound and even 800-pound patients, The Omaha World-Herald reported.

Some fire departments, like Lincoln Fire & Rescue, are even looking into borrowing or buying special equipment such as construction cranes and forklifts. A few years ago, crews had to improvise and use a tarp to move an 800-pound patient.

The latest statistics from 2008 show that 27 percent of the population in Nebraska and Iowa were obese and those numbers are up from 23 percent in 2005, according to a report by Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit group that focuses on preventive health.

As a result, the city of Omaha might buy a specially equipped ambulance that would make it easier to transport obese patients, which could cost the city more than $200,000.

Some fire departments are also considering purchasing heavy-duty stretchers, which can hold up to 1,600 pounds, compared with the standard 700 pounds.

Click here to read more from The Omaha World-Herald.