25-stone mannequin helps Northamptonshire firefighters practise rescuing obese people

The mannequin is used in a manual handling training refresher for firefighters
The mannequin is used in a manual handling training refresher for firefighters

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.

Weighing 25 stone, the mannequin provides a realistic size and weight for replicating bariatric rescue situations

Weighing 25 stone, the mannequin provides a realistic size and weight for replicating bariatric rescue situations

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 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.”

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.

Mr 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.”

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.

Mr 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.”