In the UK the number of plus size individuals being rescued by the fire service because they are too large to move on their own has gone up by more than a third over the past three years.
According to figures obtained by the BBC, in the past year there were 944 incidents in the UK involving obese patients, compared to 709 from 2012-2013.
In 2012, a new category called ‘bariatric’ rescue was created for the fire and rescue services to report incidents involving plus size patients. ‘Bariatric’ rescues involve coming to the aid of severely obese people, who are often stuck in their homes.
The cases recorded included helping the ambulance service with lifting equipment to remove an “extremely large” patient who had been stuck on the sofa for days, and carrying a 40-stone man down from the upstairs of a pub. Some incidents involved helping with the removal of a deceased obese person from their home to an undertaker’s ambulance.
The Department of Health said it spends more each year on the treatment of obesity related ill-health – a total of £5.1 billion in 2014/15 – than the government does on “the police, fire service and judicial system combined.”
In recent years, new ambulances capable of carrying patients weighing up to 50 stone are being introduced around the UK, and have been commissioned to cope with the nation’s growing obesity epidemic. The ambulances can carry up to four tonnes, and are equipped with extra-wide strengthened stretchers, which can each accommodate a 50-stone patient.
However, a problem still lies in how to get a bariatric individual out of their home and into the ambulance. It may not be possible to bring a bariatric stretcher close to the patient, and even if this is possible there is still a major challenge in transferring the patient onto the stretcher.
The role of the Fire and Rescue Service in supporting the Ambulance Service varies between regions with support provided in only emergency cases in some regions. Some Ambulance Trusts make provision by sending several crews to the incident. Nevertheless, the Fire and Rescue Service have their own role in the rescue of bariatric individuals, and provision must be made for these eventualities.
For those working in the emergency services there is a need for more bespoke equipment, as some of the tasks that emergency staff are presented with are extremely challenging, and with little or no equipment to deal with the situation available until now.
After years of research and development and working closely with fire and rescue teams across the UK, ProMove UK Ltd has launched its new Crane sling kit for rescuing bariatric casualties.
Dana Thomas is Director of ProMove UK Ltd, she explains: “The ProMove Crane Sling kit is designed to help specialist rescue teams around the world move bariatric individuals.”
She adds: “Our new Crane Sling kit is an innovative piece of equipment. Its simple design allows efficient and comfortable rescuing of bariatric individuals up to 78 stone, and its compact nature also minimises storage requirements as we understand that storage space is at a premium on fire engines.”
There are several factors which need to be taken into account when dealing with bariatric individuals, namely pain, weight, shape, mobility, co-operation, privacy, comfort and dignity.
Other difficulties when moving bariatric individuals can relate to their environment, for example their home or similar location, such as door widths, stairways, corridor width and floor load are factors to take into account.
The slings and accessories make the most challenging moves more manageable and safer, reducing risk of injury to emergency services staff and providing safety, comfort and dignity for the bariatric individual.
A report prepared by Loughborough University for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2007 entitled ‘Risk assessment and process planning for bariatric patient handling pathways’ highlights the importance of bariatric equipment specifically designed to fit bariatric individuals.
The ProMove Crane sling kit is simple and straightforward to get under the casualty, and provides support without risk of friction or shearing to the skin. The Crane sling also offers handles to allow as many emergency staff as possible to take a firm grip and support the casualty during the move, and once in place the Crane sling kit offers webbing connectors that can be attached to adjustable anchor straps and then to a spacer bar. The spacer bar is then attached to a crane, HIAB or rope and pulley system for extricating a bariatric casualty.
The ProMove Crane sling kit is based on the same design as the company’s other ProMove Emergency Services (ES) sling, and can be used in confined or outdoor spaces for the safe extrication of casualties. All slings in the product range can be placed behind a sitting person’s back, and the elongated parts are brought to either side of the hips and legs and taken under the thighs.
The casualty will be moved in a seated position, thereby avoiding putting pressure on the person’s lungs and causing more injury. The Crane Sling kit has a safe working load (SWL) of 78 stone / 500kg, and meets all necessary medical device regulation as well as rescue equipment standards.
Other slings and kits offered by ProMove range from the Emergency Services sling which has a SWL of 45 stone (630lb / 290kg), and the Bari-kit which includes 3 types of slings (Adult, Bariatric and Super Bariatric). The safe working load varies with the Adult sling at 45 stone (630lb / 290kg) to the Bariatric and Super Bariatric slings which both have a safe working load of 63 stone (882lb / 400kg).
With the upward trend of bariatric size individuals set to continue and figures published earlier this year showing that almost three in four adults will be overweight or obese by 2035, with obesity set to become “the new normal.”
This is no doubt a challenging time for the emergency services but collaboration between teams, good planning and risk assessment will ensure that emergency services staff have a safe system of working in place.
For more information, go to www.promove.uk.com