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Firefighters train with 40 stone mannequins as Brits get heavier

Oswestry | News | Published:

Stuffed full of stone and ball-bearings, this is just one of the oversized mannequins created by a firm in our region to teach emergency services how to deal with the obese.

Firefighters training with an overweight mannequin

Weighing in at 40 stone, the model has been created by specialists at Ruth Lee Ltd.

The mannequins are used to train paramedics and firefighters on how to deal with members of the public who are massively overweight.

Ruth Lee Ltd, based in Corwen, north of Oswestry, create a range of models that can be used in training exercises.

Firefighters training with an overweight mannequin

The heaviest ‘bariatric’ model weighs in at just over 40st and is designed to replicate an unconscious patient. It costs around £2,400, although emergency services buy at a discount.

A quarter of British adults are now obese, meaning they have a body mass index of 30 or more. For a 6ft man, that equates to a weight of about 16.5st.

Since 1993, the number of morbidly obese Britons – those who have a BMI of 40 or more – has risen from 350,000 to 1.5 million, according to a briefing paper published earlier this year by the House of Commons Library.

Firefighters training with an overweight mannequin

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Ruth Lee Ltd also produces two other bariatric mannequins, which weigh 14st and 28st, in addition to other lighter dummies. Its customers also include funeral parlours, cruise ships and airlines.

Marketing manager Sarah Hampson said the full-weight models were essential so emergency services could train for situations where every minute is vital.

She said: "Events like Grenfell have highlighted the need to come up with a good evacuation plan.

The heavy mannequins are stuffed with stones and ball bearings

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"There’s no point in having a plan if you’re not sure you can carry it out. For example, a hospital could have an operating theatre on the fifth floor.

"If there’s a fire, the lifts close and you’ve got somebody who’s morbidly obese, what do you do?"

The answer was to slide them down the stairs on a very heavy-duty plastic sheet, she added.

Emergency services routinely use dummies to train. Shropshire Fire Service's animal rescue unit use a model horse to practise lifting techniques, which are used when a large animal becomes stuck in water or a ditch.

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