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Fire Service called to rescue obese person every week Northern Ireland

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 10/02/2016

Rescuing obese people cost the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service almost £430,000 in the last three years, new figures reveal
Rescuing obese people cost the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service almost £430,000 in the last three years, new figures reveal

Rescuing obese people cost the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service almost £430,000 in the last three years, new figures reveal.

A man was so overweight that firefighters had to use specialist lifting equipment to move him back into bed.

It was one of 140 incidents where fire crews were needed to rescue an obese person in the last three years.

Some of the people weighed up to 60 stone.

On average the Fire and Rescue Service here responds to one bariatric call-out a week.

In one of the most shocking examples, the PSNI, Ambulance Service and firefighters were all called to an obese man who had fallen out of bed.

Salvage sheets were used to lift him during the incident in Ballyclare.

Other fire service rescues include:

  • A 30-year-old woman had to be rescued in Newtownards after becoming stuck on a toilet seat.
  • A 60-stone Belfast man who was moved from a trolley to a hospital bed using specialist lifting techniques.
  • A second 60-stone man who had to be moved using slings.
  • An obese 20-year-old who was helped back into bed in Magherafelt.
  • An incident where the Fire Service had to take out a window to remove an overweight person who was suffering from chest pains.
  • A 48-stone man who refused hospital treatment and had to be lifted back into bed.
  • An overweight 56-year-old woman who fell off a mobility scooter in Belfast.

The Fire and Rescue Service said it spent £427,977 responding to 140 bariatric incidents between 2013 and 2015.

In 2015 it dealt with 41 incidents at a cost of £124,891.

This was a slight fall on the 2014 figure, when £164,990 was spent responding to a total of 54 incidents.

And in 2013 fire crews dealt with 45 incidents, costing £138,096 in total.

Dia Chakravarty from the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "That is an astonishing amount to spend on obesity-related incidents.

"Obesity may well be a problem but people will be troubled that such a lot of precious resources are being spent on tackling this, particularly when fire services, along with other departments in the public sector, are having to find necessary savings."

Last April two cranes, seven police cars, two fire engines and 11 medics were deployed to rescue Britain's fattest woman from her flat. Georgia Davis, who weighed 55 stone, was lifted from her home in a seven-hour operation.

The rescue in Cwmaman, South Wales, was estimated to cost £10,000. Georgia had been living on a 13,000-calorie-a-day binge of takeaways and junk food which rendered her immobile.

At one point her weight ballooned to 63 stone.

A Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said the number of bariatric call-outs represented under 0.2% of all incidents.

"NIAS remains responsible for the care and transport of all patients requiring treatment at hospital following an emergency or sudden illness.

"However bariatric patients may require the use of specialist items of equipment, additional resources and planning in order to care for and transport them to hospital.

"As a result NIAS may call on assistance from NIFRS to ensure that the patient's condition is not compromised and their dignity and respect are maintained at all times."

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