For most people, entering or exiting a building is not an issue. For a person with physical challenges, entering or exiting a building could be next to impossible!
Modern buildings are required to be constructed within the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA Act). This includes installing wheelchair ramps or wheelchair lifts. In older buildings, accessibility for people with physical challenges remains an issue.
And then, there is always the possibility that the wheelchair lift may not work as designed!
Joseph faces the challenges associated with spastic cerebral palsy. The 20-year-old man from Kuna, Idaho uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. Recently, Joseph attend an event in a building that had a wheelchair lift. Joseph was able to enter the building without a problem. However, when it came time to leave, the wheelchair lift was inoperable! Joseph had no means of exiting the building!
The solution? Local firefighters were called and carried Joseph, and then his wheelchair, out of the building.
Joseph’s mother was very appreciative of the assistance provided by the firefighters, but she knew there had to be a better solution. She became frustrated after conducting a search of websites for some sort of lifting device that she could purchase and keep in their van just for situations like this. She found several lifting devices, but all were out of her price range.
She contacted Jeff Riechmann, a retired firefighter and executive director of McCall, Idaho based Courageous Kids Climbing looking for suggestions.
Riechmann contacted his friends at MedSource Labs and explained the problem. They had just the solution!
MedSource Labs would send ten of their Patient Mover Rescue Chairs, known as “The Chair,” to Courageous Kids Climbing at no charge.
Riechmann delivered one of the Patient Mover Rescue Chairs to Joseph and his mother at the Kuna (ID) fire station. They worked with the firefighters, showing them how to use the chair to assist people in wheelchairs. Joseph and his mother, along with the firefighters, were impressed with how well the chair worked.
As Riechmann prepared to leave, the Kuna firefighters asked if they could add a chair to their equipment cache on their rescue truck! Riechmann obliged and gave them one.
Two Patient Mover Rescue Chairs gone, eight to go!
West Central Mountains of Idaho
The communities of Adams, Idaho, Valley, and Idaho counties along US Highway 95 maybe be small, but these communities are filled with hard working people. Agriculture and logging are the main industries along with recreation. Finances for the families in these communities can at times, be stretched pretty thin. Finances can be stretched even further when a family needs to purchase a new wheelchair.
Most school districts in this region consist of one or two buildings. Individual photos of graduating students fill one, maybe two pages of the local weekly newspaper. The school district superintendent may also be the school principal and it is not uncommon to see them helping in a variety of roles at the school. The budgets of these school districts are limited by the size of the population.
Most of these communities are protected by volunteer fire and ambulance services. Obviously, this can create issues in getting enough volunteers to respond to incidents, especially during normal working hours. Like the school districts, their budgets are limited as well. As an example, to purchase a set of protective clothing, including a self-contained breathing apparatus, thermal imaging camera and portable radio for one firefighter can cost upwards of $20,000!
Riechmann decided to take a drive along US Highway 95.
His first stop was the high school in Midvale. Like many schools along US-95, the high school is small. This high school collaborates with the high school in neighboring Cambridge just to get enough players for the 8-man football team. Riechmann remembered meeting a young man there in a wheelchair. Once in the school office, Riechmann left one of the chairs for the young man.
Moving on to Cambridge, he told the school receptionist about his effort to distribute these chairs to kids who could use them as a sort of Plan B for getting out of a building. She shared the story of a young man, “Seth” who is being home-schooled. Contact was made with Seth’s mother and she said she was interested in getting one of the chairs, but this would create the need to make a side trip for Riechmann.
In the meantime, Riechmann was soon joined in the school office by the special education director for the Cambridge School District. The Director told Riechmann of a student in the school who was not in a wheelchair, but did have some physical challenges that one of the chairs might be able to help school staff move the student in certain situations.
Cambridge High School now has a Patient Mover Rescue Chair!
Riechmann drove out to Seth’s house. As he came to a stop at the ranch, he was met by Seth’s mother. Riechmann explained how the chair was being provided free of charge to families with members who are in wheelchairs to use as a Plan B to get the individual in and out of buildings not adequately equipped for people in wheelchairs.
When asked if she thought she could use the chair, Seth’s mother said that the family could use it every day! She went on to explain that their home had two levels. Seth’s mother stated that she could no longer carry Seth because he was too heavy. When they wanted to move Seth from one level to the next, big sister would carry Seth like a backpack on her back! Because Seth faced the challenges of cerebral palsy, his legs were somewhat ridged. This resulted in it being challenging to get Seth to wrap his legs around his sister. The chair would be the perfect solution to this problem!
During the conversation, Riechmann noticed a tear in Seth’s mother’s eye.
Riechmann would go on and provide two chairs to two different families in McCall. One was to a family with a young woman in a wheelchair while the second went to an elderly gentleman with mobility issues.
The one comment that Riechmann hears regularly when speaking with the families, is that they cannot afford to purchase a chair. Their faces light up when Riechmann tells them that there is no cost for the chair!
Seven chairs gone, three to go!
Since showing the chair to the firefighters in Kuna and providing them with one, interest amongst other first responders is growing. Chairs have been provided to Council Valley EMS, McCall Fire Rescue and Riggins Ambulance.
And now there is a waiting list for agencies that would like their own Patient Mover Rescue Chair!
As Riechmann has been distributing the chairs around the region, MedSource Labs have been getting updates of the results. The company was so impressed with Riechmann’s efforts, that they sent him a second batch of ten Patient Mover Rescue Chairs!
Riechmann has plans for these chairs already!
Courageous Kids Climbing is a nonprofit that provides free opportunities for people with special needs to experience rock wall climbing at events held throughout the western US. They are preparing to go on their first road trip of the year that will take them to Bakersfield, California; Las Vegas, Nevada and Rexburg, Idaho. The following week, they will travel to Spokane and Wenatchee, Washington and they will close out the month of April in Moscow, Idaho at the University of Idaho.
Riechmann knows some of the kids that will be participating in these events. A few of them are in wheelchairs. They will be getting a free Patient Mover Rescue Chair.
How Can You Help?
Interest in the free giveaways is growing and Riechmann wants to continue to provide the chairs not just to families with family members in wheelchairs, but to first responders as well. And he is starting to meet people who want to support the efforts.
The Patient Mover Rescue Chairs are sold in batches of ten and cost around $250, including shipping and handling. Since most families as well as first responders only need one, purchasing ten on their own is out of the question, especially when considering how much money they have available in their budgets. Yet, there still is a demand for the chairs.
If anyone would like to make a contribution to the program to provide free Patient Mover Rescue Chairs to people with physical challenges as well as first responders, they can send a check made out to “Courageous Kids Climbing” and send it to 300 Mountain Cove Court in McCall, ID. 83638-4501. They ask that you place “CHAIR” in the comments section so that they know which fund to place it in. Courageous Kids Climbing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
How much should you send? Riechmann said if fifty people send Courageous Kids Climbing five dollars, they can purchase another batch of Patient Mover Rescue Chairs! More is always welcome!
For further information, you can contact Riechmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner Image: Cody Killmar, director of Riggins Emergency Medical Service poses with a new Patient Mover Rescue Chair that is still in the package! The device provides another tool for Riggins EMTs and paramedics when they need to move a patient from an area in which accessibility may be an issue. The device was provided to Riggins EMS by McCall-based Courageous Kids Climbing.
Collage of Images:
Top Left: Council Valley EMS received a new Patient Mover Rescue Chair recently from Courageous Kids Climbing.
Bottom Left: Meadows Valley EMS personnel check out the Patient Mover Rescue Chair during a recent visit by Courageous Kids Climbing. Courageous Kids Climbing is providing the Patient Mover Rescue Chairs to individuals with physical challenges, schools and first responders at no charge.
Right: Kuna firefighters and Ada County paramedics practice moving Joseph in the Patient Mover Rescue Chair. The Patient Mover Rescue Chair is being provided to people with physical challenges to use in situations where their wheelchair may not be used. The distribution of the Patient Mover Rescue Chairs to individuals in wheelchairs, schools, and first responders is being coordinated by Courageous Kids Climbing.