Obesity Epidemic Forces First Responders to Adjust

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The obesity epidemic in the United States has come to impact many areas of life, and first responders in emergency situations are no exception, as they have had to purchase stretchers that are specifically designed for obese patients. The measures that authorities in Phoenix, AZ have had to take are described in an article on Fox News Phoenix entitled "With obesity epidemic, the need for larger, wider stretchers," written by Andrew Hasbun and published on July 26, 2013. The article describes the changes that these particular emergency responders have had to make to accommodate the obesity epidemic. Among the changes that they have made is their purchase of larger gurneys, which are 29 inches wide instead of the typical width of 23 inches. They have also purchased wider ambulances as well to cope with the increase in obesity among emergency room patients. According to the article, these gurneys make it easier for obese patients to be transported, and are located in places where they are easy to retrieve for emergency situations.

These measures are undoubtedly necessary to address potential medical emergencies among obese patients, but they also might in some cases represent part of a broader trend. If someone is obese even for a small length of time it has a long-term effect on their cardiovascular health. The health problems caused by periods of obesity are outlined in an article on CBSnews.com that was published July 17, 2013. The article was authored by Ryan Jaslow and is entitled "How long you're obese linked to heart disease risk." The article describes the recent National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Study led by Dr. Jared Reis, which tracked 3300 subjects over the course of 25 years. The conclusion of the study was that obesity at a young age can cause health problems decades later even if someone is later successful at losing weight.

The study showing the long term impact of obesity on patients shows the serious implications of the obesity epidemic, particularly among the younger generation. The bariatric equipment purchases by emergency personnel are undoubtedly necessary, but it is also not difficult to envision a situation in which those very gurneys are used for patients suffering from complications of obesity.

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Georgiy Kharchenko
8472 Tyco RD, Unit A
Vienna, VA 22182

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