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Surge in obesity rescue call-outs across borough

Firefighters are trained in helping bariatric patients
Firefighters are trained in helping bariatric patients
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Firefighters have seen a surge in the number of calls to rescue seriously overweight people.

A request to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, made under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed a large rise in bariatric rescues in Wigan.

There were six incidents in 2017-18, - actually a drop from 11 in 2016-17 - but a significant increase from just one in 2015-16 and two each in the previous two years.

Crews are called to assist with such incidents due to the specialist equipment they carry and their skills. They can use lifting gear and special slings to transport people and sometimes remove windows, walls and banisters to move patients.

A GMFRS spokesman said: “Our frontline staff are fully trained, equipped and prepared to turn out to a wide range of incidents, including bariatric rescues, and we have a number of specialist technical response units (TRU) which we use to deal with this type of incident.

“We work closely with partner agencies and often assist the ambulance service in transporting or moving the casualty, providing specialist equipment and manpower. These types of incidents can be complex and casualty safety is the main priority. On arrival, specially trained crews will assess the scene, decide which specialist equipment is needed and come up with a tactical plan on how they will move the casualty in the safest way.

“The response we provide at these types of incidents can vary, and crews carry the necessary equipment needed to remove windows or shore up the floor in order to rescue the casualty in the safest and most efficient way. Although there was a spike in figures in 2016-17, our TRUs are always prepared to turn out to these kind of incidents.”

Two weeks ago crews had to remove the window and frame from a flat in Atherton during a bariatric rescue. They helped to lift a man in a “serious” condition onto a stretcher and then a bed so he could be put in an ambulance and transported to hospital.

The latest data from Public Health England shows 71.2 per cent of adults in Wigan were classed as overweight or obese in 2016-17.

That makes the borough the seventh highest area in the country and away above the figure of 61.3 per cent for England as a whole.

That rose from 64.9 per cent of Wiganers the year before, with no change in the national figure.

Earlier this year a Public Health study shone a light on the extent of Wigan’s health-related issues.

The study, which was released in March, showed more than double the number of Wiganers were being admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity.

In England there were 1,159 per 100,000 people seeking hospital care for obesity in 2016-17, yet in the same period 2,361 Wiganers per 100,000 were seen for the same problems.

Obesity is blamed for heart failure, diabetes, breathing difficulties and arthritis, among other conditions.