New ambulance to tackle obesity crisis

A SPECIAL ambulance will soon be hitting the region’s roads to help deal with an increasing number of obesity-related health problems.

The St John Ambulance Service for Suffolk has been granted approval to purchase a bariatric ambulance which can carry patients weighing up to 70 stone.

When the ambulance arrives it will increase the charity’s fleet of bariatric vehicles to five.

Keith Hotchkiss, St John Ambulance Suffolk Operations Manager said: “Demand for our bariatric service, which enables us to carry patients weighing up to 70 stone, is most definitely on the increase.

“We are now moving an average of 12 patients a week across the region and although it may take up to a year for us to take delivery of the new ambulance, approval for its purchase is very good news indeed.

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“The majority of the work we undertake is supporting the East of England Ambulance Trust by undertaking emergency bariatric calls as well as planned outpatient appointments and hospital admissions.

“The new ambulance will provide a great boost in terms of the caring and dignified transport service we are able to provide, as well as assist with the logistics of patient transportation as the area we cover is approximately 7,000 square miles and we serve a population of just short of four million.”

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Anne Chaplin, County Executive Officer for St John Ambulance Suffolk, added: “This has been an increasing trend over the past few years, which we predict will continue.

“So the need to obtain these specialist vehicles is an urgent one. We hope to have the ambulance on the roads very soon.

“However, it has to be put through a rigorous testing programme before we get it up and running.”

The region made obesity-related headlines last year after Ipswich resident Paul Mason, 48, topped the scales at 70 stone and was thought to be the world’s fattest man.

He went on to lose 20 stone after having gastric bypass surgery.

Mr Mason, who lives in a specially adapted bungalow in east Ipswich, was thought to have suffered a suspected heart attack in February after being rushed to hospital with chest pains.

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