Unusual Ways of Rescuing People Suffering From Obesity

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Unusual Ways of Rescuing People Suffering From Obesity


By Chris Jarratt of Bariquins (December 2016)


            ‘Tis the season of goodwill. It’s just a shame that there’s only a season of it, rather than continuing forever. So, as it is that time of year, this month I’m going to look at some of the less-than-flattering ways of moving plus-size people. That said, it really is a case of ‘necessity being the mother of invention’.



            Even when a Fire Service has the forethought to equip themselves properly, as Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service has with their purchase of a specially adapted vehicle  people will still criticise. In this case, it was about the £300,000 cost to the taxpayer but with the rising number of these kind of situations, it’s probably going to be money well spent.

            So let’s start with the UK and work our way around the world, in no particular order. Twelve months ago, The Times newspaper filed Freedom of Information requests with all the British Fire & Rescue Services. Most responded and The Times investigation found that equipment used in bariatric rescues included crowbars, shovels and electric saws. Presumably, this wasn’t used directly on the person being moved but for better access. The list goes on to include not just lifting and hydraulic equipment but also animal harnesses. I’ll say that again. Animal harnesses! Which is worse though? Being lifted in an animal harness. Or being dropped because what you were using wasn’t up to the job. That is always going to be one of the major considerations.

            In South Wales in May 2015, a woman weighing 55st/770lb/350kg had to be manoeuvred out of her house in a 7 hour operation that involved 2 cranes as the first one wasn’t strong enough. Although some attempt was made to shield her to preserve some of her dignity, it’s not that easy to hide a crane. What can you do though? She had a severely infection and needed to be transported to a hospital

            Over in Germany in August 2013, when a man weighing 63st/882lb/400kg was suffering early heart failure, a speedy response was required. The Fire Service there knocked a hole in the first-floor wall of the gentleman’s house. Then, using a Caterpillar construction vehicle with a tilting bucket on, they placed the gent into the bucket to remove him from the house. He made it to the hospital alive. It may not have been dignifying but it certainly was practical.

            Further afield still, in Saudi Arabia a man weighing 96st/1345lb/610kg had to be removed from his first-floor apartment with the use of a forklift truck. And this was no urgent rescue. This was an operation that was 6 months in the planning. The man had to leave his apartment after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia ordered him to attend hospital for a bariatric weight-loss procedure. The operation was payed for by the King.

            And if you think that using industrial machinery is disrespectful and shouldn’t be used in such rescues, the alternative could be a lot worse. You have to feel for those involved who were called to an address in Dorset  England. There, a 30st/420lb/191kg lady was having a heart attack. The initial paramedics attending were not told of her size. They were unable to move her and called upon the Fire Service. When they attended, they began to work out how to remove her. Unfortunately, during their planning the lady tragically died. She would still have had to be removed from the premises with as much dignity as possible though. I’m sure the relatives of the woman would have loved to have seen a specially adapted vehicle attend and remove her speedily, saving her life.

Tags: Bariquins, Barry, bariatric, fire, health service, ambulance, mannequin, manikin, model, obese, obesity, dummy, emergency, England, health and safety, paramedic, police, rescue, fat, plus-size, Wales, Germany, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, Extrication, search, Training, nhs



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