Bariatric mannequin helps firefighters train safely

08 December 2017
Firefighters undergo manual handling training using the new bariatric mannequin

​Firefighters in Northamptonshire have a new team member to help them safely practise how to rescue larger people.

Barry, a 25-stone mannequin, was bought by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) to allow crews to safely and realistically practise rescue techniques to help obese, or bariatric, people.

As well as helping to prevent firefighters from being injured at work, Barry also helps them to ensure any bariatric rescues are carried out in the most dignified way possible.

Station manager (SM) Gary Welch, who was behind Barry’s arrival at NFRS, said: “Barry allows us to practise safe handling and lifting techniques in calm and controlled non-emergency situations.

“Real-life rescues are often difficult or stressful, so by being prepared everyone knows about lifting techniques and possible complications and it just helps make everything safer and smoother for everyone.”

The bariatric mannequin weighs 25 stone

Prepare and prevent

NFRS attends at least one bariatric incident a month, and is often called to assist the ambulance service in helping larger casualties.

The decision to purchase Barry, who cost £3,500, came about following a discussion about how a physical training aid would enhance the manual handling training firefighters regularly undertake.

SM Welch said: “The idea was to reduce manual handling injuries because crews know what to expect in bariatric rescue situations, and if we can stop even one person being injured at work then it’s worth it.

“I did some research and found a firm called Bariquins, which produces bariatric mannequins which simulate both the size and weight of a bariatric patient to provide a realistic experience.”

A flexible way to train

Breaking down into 15 weighted parts, Barry can be easily transported, allowing training to be delivered at each fire station, rather than crews having to travel to train.

SM Welch added: “The design also allows us to practise lots of different scenarios as well, such as within the home or following a car crash.

“For the people we help, the training we do with Barry means crews are more confident dealing with larger people’s needs and can help them in a really professional and respectful way from the off.”

White Watch firefighters with Gary Welch, Ian Smith and the One Show film crew

NFRS recently featured in a report on the BBC’s The One Show (7pm, Thursday 7 December) looking at the lives of bariatric patients, the challenges they face and the services involved in helping them, both in everyday life and in emergency situations.

As part of this, the film crew visited Mereway fire station to join the members of White Watch and SM Welch as they underwent a manual handling refresher using the bariatric mannequin.

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