FIREFIGHTERS have had to remove windows and doors to get obese patients out of their homes and into ambulances, South Yorkshire brigade bosses have revealed.
Crews have been called to 188 incidents in the last eight years where heavily overweight people have needed help to leave their homes or to be moved after falling.
Because of the size of some, firefighters have had to remove doors and windows to get them out to ambulances.
And some firefighters have been put through specialist training to ensure they are not injured themselves.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Dave Kiddy said: “I have 29 years of experience and I can’t remember getting these kind of call-outs years ago - they are certainly a sign of modern times. I am not saying we never had obese people in the past, but I think as treatments are getting better and they need more access to hospital, they are on our radar more.”
He said most of the call-outs come from the ambulance service when paramedics are struggling to move urgent cases. Because the fire service has specialists hoists and lifting equipment it is able to respond - but Mr Kiddy said the call-outs cost thousands of pounds a year.
“We have a number of firefighters with the specialist skills needed to handle and move these patients,” he said.
“We recognised the importance of providing this training because of the injuries firefighters could suffer as a result of moving and lifting patients of this weight - we have a duty of care to our employees.
“We respond to these requests for help because we are an emergency service. But some incidents prove problematic because of the size of the people involved. We have been known to remove windows and doors.”
He added the figures for call-outs are not going up. Firefighters responded to 29 calls for help for obese people last year, down from 42 the year before. So far this year they have dealt with one.
n Counting the calories: see Food and Drink, P26-27.