Posted: 7:55 a.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By Rick Couri
The problem is twofold. Some medical helicopters aren’t powerful enough to life large patients and others are too small to even allow them inside.
The numbers are surprising as nearly 5,000 patients a year are not transported because they are just too big.
One executive said "it’s an issue for sure, we can get to a scene and find that the patient is too heavy to be able to go."
Those patients are taken to medical care by traditional ambulances but doctors say it’s greatly raising risks to their health.
Some emergency medical providers can’t handle patients over 250 pounds while other choppers will carry people who weigh up to 650 pounds.
One answer is to get helicopters that are bigger and more powerful but cost becomes an issue for the companies operating the service.
Air Methods executive Craig Yale found out about the issue the hard way. Yale learned his own company may not be able to transfer him in an emergency because he weighed 335 pounds.
His response was to have gastric bypass surgery helping him lose 125 pounds.