Increase in calls to fire service to move obese people
- Credit: PA
The number of calls made to the fire service to move obese people has increased in the past five years.
Figures from the Home Office show 45 calls were made to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service for bariatric assistance - helping ambulance crews to move obese people - between April 2012 and March 2017.
In 2016/17 there were 11 calls made to the fire service, compared to five in 2015/16. The highest number of calls were made in the period between 2013/14 - 18 compared to nine in the previous year.
These calls represent a small portion of the service's 13,000 non-fire incidents in Norfolk, but the majority of call-outs took more than an hour to resolve. Of those, five incidents were more than four hours long.
On Valentine's Day in 2013, up to six fire engines and 10 to 19 firefighters attended a call which took nearly two hours to deal with.
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Across England, fire and rescue services attended 851 bariatric assistance cases in 2016-17, a 98pc increase on five years previously.
Firefighters often need lifting equipment and special slings to transport people, and sometimes remove windows, walls and bannisters.
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An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: 'We treat a variety of patient conditions across the region, and come into contact with many people who are managing long-term and complex heath needs, including those needing bariatric care.
'If someone requires emergency treatment, we aim to provide the best possible pre-hospital care and we have a duty to ensure we have the resources required to help all of our patients.
'A lot of time is dedicated in our service to how we can improve patient experience for groups of people with all kinds of accessibility needs, allowing us to be as responsive and patient-driven as we can be.'
A spokesman from the Norfolk Fire and Rescue service said bariatric assistance can be either pre-planned or critical assistance, adding: 'We do have specialist appliances at our Dereham station, which are engineered with bariatric support in mind.'
In Suffolk, 69 calls were made to the fire service in the last five years, with one call out in April 2015 attended by up to nine fire engines and 20 to 29 firefighters who had spent three to four hours at the scene.
A spokesman from the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said these calls represented less than 0.01pc of the 27,000 calls they had attended.
They added: 'We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the ambulance service to provide the best possible service for Suffolk residents, and helping out vulnerable patients, including those who are bariatric, is an important part of that partnership working.'