SLC gets two new trailers that help first responders transport electric wheelchairs

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) Mayor Jackie Biskupski and the Salt Lake City Fire Department joined forces to bring two wheelchair trailers to Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City’s emergency response services unveiled the lift trailers Monday at the Salt Lake City and County Building. 

The lifts were installed for residents who use motorized wheelchairs in hopes to make take a leap forward in making their transportation and first-responder accessibility easier. 

An electric wheelchair is considered an extension of the person. Being able to transport a person and leaving behind their means of mobility can be traumatizing. 

Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski, said one of her missions as mayor has been to “build a city for everyone.”

Obtaining these trailers is a critical step in ensuring the city is prepared for assisting everyone in any kind of emergency, Mayor Biskupski said.

In the past, first responders have been unable to transport the 300-plus pound, motorized chairs when users are taken to a hospital or transported for other emergencies. 

The availability of lifts means that the chairs can be transported along with an individual. 

Sarah Benj, ADA Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office, said she started gathering research as an intern how other major cities deal with emergencies when a person with disabilities and uses a power chair calls 911. 

Benj said her research shows that most people who used a power chair either couldn’t take it with them when being transported or had to have their chair transported by a third party.

“This is an important step in providing a 911 response that offers greater equity for residents who use wheelchairs,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski said. “The lifts expand our capability to serve those who depend on motorized wheelchairs for their independence.”

A motorized chair user herself, Benj knows from experience how difficult it is to have to leave it behind. “It was like leaving a part of me behind,” said Benj. 

The two trailers are attached behind emergency vehicles. Salt Lake City’s fire department has worked with area hospitals to establish protocols for receiving the chairs to ensure they get to their users. 

Mayor Biskupski said she hopes the trailers will bring significant peace of mind to the city’s ADA community and helps the fire department in its continual effort to have a positive impact on those experiencing difficult or tragic situations.

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