Larger ambulances needed to cope with growing obesity

AMBULANCE workers have called for more super-sized vehicles because of a dramatic rise in the number of grossly obese patients.

The NSW Ambulance Service currently has five of the so-called multipurpose vehicles (MPVs), which are used to pick up and deliver exceptionally overweight patients.

They are mainly used to transport people weighing more than 180 kg, or whose girth is too large for the normal ambulance stretcher, according to news reports.

The number of cases attended by the specialist vehicles has jumped from 45 in the 2002 financial year, to 576 in 2008 and a staggering 909 in 2010, and staff say demand is outstripping supply in many areas, particularly Western Sydney.

Patients are on many occasions too big to lie on the stretcher being used in a regular ambulance, they say.

The NSW Ambulance Service has admitted it is looking to "redistribute" the fleet to areas in desperate need.