Firefighters called out almost once a week to rescue overweight Scots
FIREFIGHTERS are called out almost once a week to rescue obese Scots who are too overweight to move themselves.
Figures released under Freedom of Information show there have been at least 224 firefighter rescues of overweight Scots since 2007.
The total figure is likely to be much higher because Scotland’s second-biggest brigade, Lothian and Borders, said it did not hold that information.
Victims – some weighing up to 50 stone – had to be hauled to safety after falling off beds, chairs and hospital trolleys or getting jammed in baths, toilets and behind doors.
Firefighters were summoned by police, ambulance crews, coastguards, carers – and even undertakers – who were physically unable to move obese people. In some cases it was necessary for crews to use specialist lifting equipment.
Glasgow University revealed last week that Scots have become heavier and fatter in the past ten years, with a higher body mass index and waist circumference, especially in older women.
Grampian fire and rescue service revealed it had recorded 11 cases since 2009 where it was called in to move “bariatric casualties” – the formal term for obese patients. It said one of the victims was aged just 23.
In another case, 12 Grampian firefighters were called in to carry an obese patient from their home to a waiting ambulance.
The brigade also documents a case from 2009 when seven firefighters used an aerial ladder platform and a “general purpose line” to move an obese casualty “from house to ambulance through window”.
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, which moved 48 obese people over the five-year period, said in one case firefighters were called to help ambulance crews lift someone who had fallen off a hospital trolley. Last year, firefighters helped move a 44-stone man who had fallen out of bed.
In Tayside, fire crews were contacted 61 times in five years to help move overweight people. Tayside firefighters have helped funeral directors on three occasions.
Strathclyde only provided figures from 2007 to 2009 but these show firefighters were called to 65 rescues of obese patients .
Fife Fire and Rescue Service was called out 15 times in five years. Central firefighters helped rescue 21 overweigh people, and Dumfries and Galloway attended three incidents and provided information on the costs.
Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the Scottish Government should do more to combat obesity. He said: “This is another stark reminder of the challenge we face.”
Mike Cordiner, station manager with Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, said: “If we are asked to attend the incidents, we will consider in each case what is the best thing for the person.”
A government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to tackling the problem of obesity. Our action plan sets out actions to make it easier for everyone to make healthy choices.”
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