Firefighters ‘rescue’ 79 obese people in South Yorkshire

Firefighters are helping obese people
Firefighters are helping obese people

Firefighters in South Yorkshire have been called out 79 times over the last three years to help severely obese people, The Star can reveal.

Figures obtained by The Star show there have been 30 incidents in Sheffield, 19 in Barnsley, 16 in Rotherham and 14 in Doncaster.

The rescue of a ‘bariatric person’ – as severely obese people are categorised on the system – can cost several thousand pounds per incident.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue head of emergency response Phil Shillito said: “Our firefighters respond professionally to a variety of challenges and continue to provide a first class emergency service – our ethos is to help people in distress or at risk.

“At a time when our Government funding is being severely cut, we think it’s important to highlight incidents like this, which people probably don’t associate us with.

“We attend far more than just fires and road crashes.

“Bariatric rescues require specialist skills and equipment and we wonder which other service could help if our resources weren’t available.”

Figures obtained by The Star reveal firefighters in Sheffield, firefighters responded to five incidents in 2012, 10 in 2013, 13 in 2014 and two so far this year.

Figures for Barnsley show firefighters attended four incidents in 2012, six in 2013, five in 2014 and four so far this year.

In Rotherham, firefighters attended four incidents in 2012, six in 2013, three in 2014 and three so far this year.

And in Doncaster they responded to three of the calls in 2012, seven in 2013, two in 2014 and two so far this year.

The figures also include calls when firefighters were stood down before arrival and were on stand-by, meaning their services were not required.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Firefighters respond to all types of emergencies with the professionalism you would expect from public servants who put their lives at risk on a daily basis.”

Mr Wrack added: “Regardless of the situation firefighters act with care and respect to whomever they are helping.

“Firefighters do not just respond to fires but all emergencies including flooding, road traffic accidents and major incidents such as terrorist attacks.

“In order to continue providing a world class service the fire service needs investment, not cuts.”