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Firefighters rescue 40 obese people in specialist operations

NI firefighters dealt with 40 bariatric call-outs over the last 12 months

A total of 40 obese people in the north were rescued from their homes in specialist operations by firefighters over the past year, new figures reveal.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) carry out ‘bariatric’ rescues when a person is severly obese and unable to be removed from a property without the aid of specialised equipment including slings and harnesses, or in some cases without the removal of windows or walls.

The 40 people in NI were part of an overall UK total of 944 bariatric rescues carried out by firefighters in 2015-16, and the figures, obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live, show the NIFRS performed the fourth highest number of such operations, just ahead of the London Fire Brigade.

The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service performed the most bariatrics, with a total of 77.

Tam Fry, from the charity National Obesity Forum, said: “This is not about more people being obese. This is about those who are already obese now getting to a size where they now need assistance.

“Senior doctors I speak to say there are many people who don't leave their homes so they don't even put themselves in a position where they may need to be rescued. They are scared of being seen in public.”

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