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July 17, 2013
Obese patients denied air ambulances
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the 446-pound patient in New Mexico, having a heart attack wasn’t the worst thing that happened last April.
Even more harrowing was being turned down by the air ambulance that came to the rescue — because the victim was too big to get off the ground. “It’s an issue for sure,” said Craig Yale, vice president of corporate development for Air Methods, one of the nation’s biggest air medical transport providers. “We can get to a scene and find that the patient is too heavy to be able to go.”
Increasingly, America’s growing girth is grounding patients who need emergency help by air, say Yale and other operators. An estimated 5,000 super-sized patients a year — or about 1 percent of more than 500,000 medical air flights annually in the U.S. — are denied transport because they exceed weight and size limits or because they can’t fit through the aircraft doors.