This is how many times Surrey Fire Service has been called out to help move obese people

June 13, 2018
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Firefighters in Surrey have been called out nearly 50 times to help move obese people over the past five years – and figures suggest the problem is growing.

Unions say emergency services personnel are being pushed to the limit as the number of bariatric rescues nationally nearly doubled over that same five-year period.

And with the average cost of a callout ringing in at £400, the cost for providing bariatric assistance to people in Surrey will have run into thousands of pounds.

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Surrey Fire and Rescue Service attended a total of 49 callouts to help ambulance crews move obese patients between April 2012 and March 2017, Home Office figures have revealed.

The vast majority of those – 37 – were recorded in 2016-2017, whereas there was just one in 2012-13.

Most of those callouts lasted more than 45 minutes – and two of those stretched to more than four hours before they were finally resolved.

But the cases represent a small percentage of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s 19,000 non-fire incidents over the past few years.

Firefighters often need lifting equipment and special slings to transport people, and sometimes remove windows, walls and banisters.

For some non-emergency cases, services have been able to recover costs since legislation was put in place in 2004.

Across England, fire and rescue services attended 851 bariatric assistance cases in 2016-17, a 98% increase on five years previously.

Unison’s national ambulance officer, Alan Lofthouse, said that judgement on whether bariatric assistance was required was made by paramedics on a case-by-case basis.

He said: “Obesity can be a real issue for ambulance staff trying to help critically ill patients.

“Ambulance equipment has a safe working load, and pushing the limit puts patients and staff at risk.

“In an emergency a paramedic has to make a judgment call on how best to help an obese patient, and in some instances this means calling for assistance from other services.”

Tam Fry, the chairman of the National Obesity Forum, which aims to raise awareness of obesity in the country, said: “The leap in the frequency that fire crews have to winch very obese people from their homes is truly shocking.

“The figures will continue to rise, however, even if the government were to implement drastic measures to combat the epidemic today.

“It’s the inevitable result of decades of Westminster failing to produce any strategy to help lessen the chances of the fat from getting fatter.”

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/health/bariatric-rescues-obesity-surrey-move-14777579


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