Firefighters tackle heavy workload

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Firefighters in the county have been called to help release scores of patients from their homes – because they were so overweight.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have been called into action 42 times for ‘bariatric assists’ since 2009.

Bariatric assists are when paramedics need help to move or release somebody because of their weight.

There were five incidents in 2009/10, 15 in 2010/11, 14 in 2011/12 and eight so far since April.

In one case fire crews had to rescue a patient from a commode and in another case firefighters had to help a 35-stone patient.

John Taylor from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service deal with around 20,000 emergency incidents annually and the number of people they rescue – from fires, from vehicle crashes, flooding incidents, industrial accidents and all the other situations where help is needed – amounts to hundreds.

“It will be seen from the statistics we have provided that it is in a very small number of cases, averaging 10 a year, in which the casualty’s obesity presents a particular challenge in terms of lifting and moving them, in circumstances such as at the request of paramedics needing help to carry their patient to an ambulance.”

A spokesman for the North West Ambulance Service said: “We receive over one million emergency calls a year – our aim is to treat every patient with the same dignity and standard of care, no matter of what their situation is.

“There are occasions when we request the assistance of Fire and Rescue Services, and we work in partnership to 
provide the best possible level of care to the patient.”

NHS Central Lancashire public health associate Amy Witherup, added: “NHS Central Lancashire commissions a range of services to support people to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

“Those wishing to access weight management services can contact the healthy lifestyles team on 01772 644158.”