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  1. #1
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    Default Stranded Power Wheelchairs....

    It seems like we've had a rash of these lately - individuals in power wheelchairs simply "running out of juice' out on the streets somewhere. They never know who to call or what to do, and as we all know, that usually boils down to us. Does your department have a policy or procedure for assisting these individuals? We've managed to deal with them (not easily and not always very well), but there must be a better way. What's your opinion?

    District Chief David B. Reeves

    Superintendent - SFD Division of Maintenance

    312 State Fair Boulevard

    Syracuse, NY 13204-1139

    315-473-3276 Ext. 605

    FAX 315-473-2618

    DReeves@ci.syracuse.ny.us


  2. #2
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    Try your local metro bus service. See if they have any vehicles that are available to those in wheel chairs. In Lexington we have a service that will drop them off door to door for the same cost as a bus ride. It is a combination of the bus service and some charities that provide the service. That is where I would start.

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    A great suggestion . . . and one we already tried. The local bus company (CENTRO, the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority) was distinctly and clearly not interested in being of any assistance, and the police department even less so. Nevertheless, it's a great suggestion for other FD's to try. I just didn't want to post a list of the things that didn't work or agencies that didn't help, just in case - in your own community - they might.
    Thanks for the response.

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    Forum Member edge1317's Avatar
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    Could look into the power supply of these chairs. Is there a way you could hook up some jumpers or something of the sort to give them enough juice to get home? If you turn up something along these lines you could have dispatchers just forward them to tow services for a "jump".

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    Certainly worth looking into. I'm a little concerned that all of the chairs are slightly different and you run the risk of doing some damage trying to "jump" one of them. The majority I've seen take a long time at low voltage to charge. Perhaps someone with more expertise on these types of power chairs can shed some light on the subject?

  6. #6
    Forum Member firecat1's Avatar
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    Most of these chairs (in my experience, anyway) have to be plugged in to charge up. And yeah, they do take a while to recharge. Unless you have one of those portable chargers that plugs into a lighter socket, the pt is basically grounded until the chair can be repowered. And most services I've delt with aren't real big into the humanitarian side of things enough to offer free/cheap taxi service to get the pt AND the chair back home.

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    We have run on a guy in a power wheelchair that has been stranded twice in the last few months. Both times it came in as an unknown medical and when we got there the guy was having some respritory problems. Issue is his ride won't fit in the Medic Unit and he refuses to leave it anywhere or to even part with it for that matter. So, we kicked on the inverter and plugged his wheelchair in and proceeded to have the Medic walk beside him while he drove down the road the mile or so to the Hospital, luckily this happened around 2am both times so traffic wasn't an issue, we did activate Emergency lights for the trip though with the wheelchair following the ambulance. Only way we could get him there short of calling out a tow truck for him.

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    My career FDF ran an EMS call for an individual in a powered wheel chair. The box transported the patient and we special called for one of the department pick ups and loaded the chair into it and took it to the ER.

    Took 4 of us to load it damn that was heavy!!

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    MembersZone Subscriber Engine58's Avatar
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    I work as a fulltime EMT and we recieved a call for an overturned vehicle one day. So we had the response of 2 BLS trucks 1 Engine & Rescue and ALS unit. We arrived on scene and found an overturned jazzi wheel chair. The guy only had minor injuries but long story short. Was coming down the hill lost his brakes...and hit a curb.
    Andrew
    Firefighter/EMT
    New Jersey

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    Forum Member TNFF319's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Engine58 View Post
    I work as a fulltime EMT and we recieved a call for an overturned vehicle one day. So we had the response of 2 BLS trucks 1 Engine & Rescue and ALS unit. We arrived on scene and found an overturned jazzi wheel chair. The guy only had minor injuries but long story short. Was coming down the hill lost his brakes...and hit a curb.
    I feel bad, but that was funny.


    A flat bed tow truck seems like it might be the only option. Since the patient isn't having a medical problem its just a service call. My department does not have the means to transport the pt. so a tow truck would be my route. Have the patient ride in the cab with the driver and trasport the chair on the back. You could follow them to xyz and help unload the patient back into his chair. It would be expensive for the patient, but they should be on top of how much juice they have.
    FF/Paramedic

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My career FDF ran an EMS call for an individual in a powered wheel chair. The box transported the patient and we special called for one of the department pick ups and loaded the chair into it and took it to the ER.

    Took 4 of us to load it damn that was heavy!!
    Off the topic of the OP but this reminded me of a funny (although at the time we did not think it was funny). We were called to a local assisted living complex during an Ice storm to assist occupants back into their apartment rooms. The power was out so the elevator was not working. Well we had this one man who had one of those little rascal things and of course he could not walk with assistance to his 3rd story apartment. Well being the nice guys we are we offered to get him back to his room. We borrowed a non powered chair from another residence and carried him up the three flights of stairs to his room. Then he asked us if we could bring his little rascal thing up too. We (there were only 3 of us on the call) looked at each other and said yea we are here to serve. Little did I know that this little rascal is anything but little as far as the weight? Being the big bad firefighters we are we of course could not call for some extra help so we just heaved and howed up to the third floor. We laughed the entire time wondering how we got ourselves into this mess. Now every time I make a call to that location and I am in that stairwell I look around for my hemorrhoid that I know fell out while we were dragging that little rascal up the steps.
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    It will come as no surprise that I have a slightly different take.

    HAven;t most of you found that the overwhelming majority of these wheelchairs are used by people who have little else wrong with them except that they are morbidly obese?

    I would call them a taxi if they had no real medical need.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Forum Member skvfd5's Avatar
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    Most Jazzy Chairs have a freewheel lever that will let you push the chair manually. This lever can be on the side of the motor or at the front or rear of the chair. It is not recommended that you use a car battery charger on them as they are a deep cycle battery.
    Fight fire aggrressively having provided for Safety first.

  14. #14
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It will come as no surprise that I have a slightly different take.

    HAven;t most of you found that the overwhelming majority of these wheelchairs are used by people who have little else wrong with them except that they are morbidly obese?

    I would call them a taxi if they had no real medical need.

    George - Point well taken. I have encountered a few of those, but with a number of "Assisted Living" Facilities in the area, we seem to see a good cross section, with folks with Muscular disorders being well represented. We have an outfit called "MetroAccess" (Part of the DC Metro Transit System) that has Wheelchair Vans for "Taxi" style services. There are also Private EMS Transport services around, most of which have Vans for these things as well. Since most of these "Wheelchairs" have a Plug for recharging, I'd plug it into the Generator on the Apparaus and get it up to where the person can get home from there, along with advice to avoid getting in that position again, most importantly, make sure that the Battery is up to date.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    George - Point well taken. I have encountered a few of those, but with a number of "Assisted Living" Facilities in the area, we seem to see a good cross section, with folks with Muscular disorders being well represented. We have an outfit called "MetroAccess" (Part of the DC Metro Transit System) that has Wheelchair Vans for "Taxi" style services. There are also Private EMS Transport services around, most of which have Vans for these things as well. Since most of these "Wheelchairs" have a Plug for recharging, I'd plug it into the Generator on the Apparaus and get it up to where the person can get home from there, along with advice to avoid getting in that position again, most importantly, make sure that the Battery is up to date.
    I'm not saying 100%, but the people who wheel these things around town while sucking on an extra large chocolate shake from McDonald's make me nuts. I have a thing about wasting public safety assets on non-emergency situations.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I'm not saying 100%, but the people who wheel these things around town while sucking on an extra large chocolate shake from McDonald's make me nuts. I have a thing about wasting public safety assets on non-emergency situations.

    George, maybe it is just me but In think maybe we are talking about 2 different things.

    Motorized wheel chair for a disabled individual.

    Little Rascal style scooter sometimes for the physcially impaired and
    sometimes for morbidly obese you mentioned.

  17. #17
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    we do not have apolicy for them, however I work at busy metro EMS dispatch center and we do occassionally get calls for these. We send a first code 2 and then it is either Ambulette, metro bus with a power lift, last code 2 ambulance.
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  18. #18
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Unless there's a medical problem, sounds like a police matter.

    Hmm.. that's not very customer service oriented. However, that was my first reaction.

    Maybe DPW can help or the town's health department (office of aging?)
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    George, maybe it is just me but In think maybe we are talking about 2 different things.

    Motorized wheel chair for a disabled individual.

    Little Rascal style scooter sometimes for the physcially impaired and
    sometimes for morbidly obese you mentioned.
    We probably are. Note in my first post I was talking about those with no medical needs.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  20. #20
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Yeah..........

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    I'm not saying 100%, but the people who wheel these things around town while sucking on an extra large chocolate shake from McDonald's make me nuts. I have a thing about wasting public safety assets on non-emergency situations.
    I'm with 'ya............ Besides, a Root Beer Float from Wendy's beats a Mickey D's shake any time.........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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