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Healthcare officials in Calgary have unveiled a new ambulance designed for treating and transporting obese patients in an emergency, believed to be the first of its kind in this country.

The ambulance is equipped with a wide stretcher and a mechanical lift that gently raises patients weighing up to 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) into the carriage.


"The population is becoming heavier and we needed an ambulance that could handle bigger loads and to reduce injuries to our paramedics from lifting," Emergency Medical Services supervisor Eric Arnestad told AFP.


According to Statistics Canada, the number of Canadians who are overweight or obese has risen dramatically in recent years, mirroring a worldwide phenomena. More than 20 percent, or six million Canadians are considered obese.


Calgarian Chad Campbell, who weighs more than 560 pounds (250 kilograms), welcomed the new crash wagon, telling public broadcaster CBC it used to take four firemen and two paramedics to transport him to hospital.


"The standard ambulances aren't really geared to handle situations like that," he said.


A regular ambulance is sized for patients weighing up to 350 pounds (160 kilograms), officials said.



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