Funeral directors, firefighters and ambulance crews have been using 40 stone manikins in training exercises to practise rescuing obese people.
The bariatric dummies are being used by emergency services across the world to replicate the weight of unconscious people in response to rising obesity rates.
Produced by Ruth Lee, manufacturer of rescue training manikins, the dummies come in three sizes – 90kg, 180kg and 260kg – and are filled with a stone core and steel ball bearings.
There is also a water-fillable bariatric suit which allows teams to position their manikin in a difficult spot to access, such as the high cab of an articulated lorry, and then add the weight using water.
The demand for a range of bariatric dummies comes as the number of morbidly obese people has dramatically increased. A quarter of British adults are classified as obese.
Sarah Hampson from Ruth Lee said: “Events like Grenfell have highlighted the need to come up with a good evacuation plan. There’s no point 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?”
She added: “As a company, we aim to make manikins which provide teams with a realistic challenge. With the obesity levels rising, it’s important that the emergency services learn how to safely manoeuvre heavier people from difficult access areas.”
As well as providing the British emergency services with bariatric manikins, Ruth Lee have had orders from Australia, the USA and Germany. They have also sold bariatric manikins to the RAF, universities and specialist healthcare equipment manufacturers too.
Ruth Lee was established 60 years ago and it’s very first customer was Merseyside Fire Service. Today, the company supplies 100 percent of the UK’s fire and rescue services as well as funeral directors and care homes.