A fire service in the ‘obesity capital of Britain’ were called out a whopping 51 times – to winch overweight patients out of their homes and into ambulances.
Chubby casualties were rescued by firefighters using equipment usually reserved for lifting car wrecks.
West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service responded to dozens of requests for assistance from ambulance crews who arrived at emergency calls or pre-booked appointments to find that a patient was too heavy to move.
Despite splashing out on four £90,000 ‘fat ambulances’ for use with overweight patients, the fire service attended 51 call outs between March 2009 and August 2012.
Between March 2009 and April 2010 the brigade received 17 call-outs to the incidents.
They dealt with 16 between 2010 and March 2011 and 17 from March 2011 to April 2012.
The stats even revealed several obesity incident ‘hot-spots’ across the region, with crews attending the Canley area in Coventry five times in the last three years.
Birmingham and the West Midlands are considered Europe’s most overweight region.
Twenty nine per cent of the adult population are classified as ‘obese’ while the European average is just 14 per cent.
Nick Harrison, West Midlands Brigade Chairman of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “In most cases these people are quite elderly and are suffering from serious medical issues which have left them bedridden for a long time, and they have put on a lot of weight.
“Many times we have to remove the whole window frame and get them out that way. It’s a lot simpler and safer both for them and for the rescuers.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service said it had invested in equipment to deal with obese patients, but there were times when they needed firefighters’ help.
A spokesperson said: “There are occasions when the fire service is requested to attend incidents where safe access to and egress from premises is deemed problematic.
“In such cases, firefighters and ambulance staff work together to ensure patient safety is not compromised.”
West Midlands Fire Service station commander Pete Drummond said: “We work collaboratively with the ambulance service and will respond appropriately when requested by them, to effect the safest possible treatment and care of bariatric casualties or patients.”
In May this year 63-stone Georgia Davies, 19, was lifted from her home in Aberdare, South Wales, by 50 firefighters who removed part of her wall because she was too large to fit through the doors.