Medevac plane retrofitted for Yukon’s larger patients

A Yukon medevac plane is being retrofitted to handle the territory's bariatric patients. The number of patients over 350 pounds who need to be airlifted has gone up, says the territory's EMS director.

A Yukon medevac plane is being retrofitted to handle the territory’s bariatric patients.

The number of patients over 350 pounds who need to be airlifted has gone up, says the territory’s EMS director.

Jeff Simons said his department handled only one trip in 2008 for patients who weighted more than 350 pounds or had a diameter of more than 24 inches. That number jumped to three trips in 2010.

So far in 2015 they’ve made nine trips.

“We are noticing an increase in that type of service and we are trying to stay ahead of it and provide that service for Yukon residents,” he said.

The weight of a bariatric patient can make it difficult to lift them into the plane and their size can be too big for the door. An adapted King Air 350 will allow the heavy lifting to be done with an electronic piston system. The door will also be made wider.

While staff are very careful, manual lifting could be a workplace health and safety issue, Simons said.

“As we’re getting the patients that are either too heavy for the equipment or too large for the door, that does put the people lifting at added risk and that’s part of why we’ve been pursuing this solution.”

Alkan Air, which has the contract to run medevac flights, is paying for most of the work, about $400,000 worth. The Yukon government spent about $30,000 to buy the actual equipment and the Department of Health and Social Services has agreed to pay an extra stipend to Alkan any time the plane is used.

The new plane should be up and flying once everyone involved is trained, Simons said. That’s expected to be by June.

Right now, when bariatric patients that need to be flown from the communities to Whitehorse, Alkan will help EMS find a plane that can fit the patient.

These planes don’t have oxygen or other equipment already set up in the back.

“We’ll take an aircraft that has a suitably sized door, that we can get the person through and that we can anchor our stretcher to, so it has to have some sort of mount on the floor,” Simons said.

“Then we use all the same equipment. Except, because there’s no equipment already in that aircraft, what we have to do is bring along portable equipment. Extra batteries, extra oxygen tanks.”

If a bariatric patient in Whitehorse needs to be flown outside, the territory pays a different company to come with a specialized plane.

The setup used for flights within the territory is usually not good enough for longer flights out, Simons said.

“So what we would do is, we would use the best tool for the job, which would mean we would call and out-of-territory team from usually Alberta or B.C. to come up and pick up a patient.”

According to the Health Department, those flights can cost approximately $30,000.

“What it’s going to do for us now is, we’ll have the solution for both the in-territory and the out of territory (flights),” Simons said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading