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EvacPro+ provides ‘lots of handles for lots of people’.

Plus size evacuation – What is the solution?

One of the consequences of modern living with its obtundents of high energy foods and energy saving devices is that it is all too easy to consume more energy than we are using. If the human body takes in more energy than it uses it will store the excess just in case we need it later, this storage of human energy reserve is more commonly known as FAT.

Year on year the percentages of the population with an excess of stored unused energy (FAT) keeps rising, in the UK more than two thirds of the adult population has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30 and the percentage of people with a BMI of over 40 is at record levels. A BMI of 40+ is generally accepted as Bariatric “Plus Size” and it’s of no surprise that as a person’s BMI rises their level of self-mobility falls. The Plus Size person still has the same sized skeleton, heart & lungs they had before they became Plus Size so the chances of them becoming immobile are greatly increased.

In an emergency evacuation of a building any immobile person regardless of their size or age can cause issues for the persons responsible for ensuring the building is safely evacuated, but by far the most difficult to evacuate are the Plus Size individuals.

In the emergency evacuation of a building the responsible person has two main considerations when providing a solution for evacuating immobile individuals, firstly it’s important that the immobile person is protected as far as is practical in the situation from any injury during the evacuation, secondly, it’s as important that the persons evacuating the immobile individuals on behalf of the responsible person are not injured.

The solution to moving immobile persons in an emergency, is to involve as many persons as required to keep the risk of a moving & handling injury to these persons as low as possible. In most cases it will require a minimum of 2 persons to safely move an immobile individual of the same relative size to the persons doing the movement. This 2:1 ratio is maintained as the relative size of the immobile individual to be evacuated increases. Typically, a Plus Sized individual is 3,4 or 5 times the size of a normal adult with a BMI in the 20’s therefore it would follow that 6,8 or even 10 persons would be required to move them safely.

Many hands really do make light work.

This principle of “many hands make light work” in the absence of powered machinery is not new. In ancient times before the advent of machines powered by internal combustion engines and electric motors, humans would move large heavy objects in exactly the same way, by involving as many persons as required to make the object move, not always with the wellbeing of those persons in mind. Sick pay and injury compensation are a relatively recent innovation. The human body does not come with handles fitted as standard, this can be problematic when trying to move an immobile individual, the bodies limbs and clothing have limitations when trying to employ good safe manual handling techniques and are certainly not an option when moving a Plus Sized individual. 3ET supply a complete range of emergency evacuation moving & handling aids, from baby to Bariatric, all designed to facilitate the involvement of multiple persons with good ergonomic features to minimises the risk of injury to both the individual being evacuated and the persons performing the evacuation.

The EvacPRO+ and ProMove Bari slings both facilitate the multi person involvement required in the emergency evacuation of the Plus Sized individual. In the case of the EvacPRO+ a hard-wearing plastic base and ergonomic ladder handles allow as many persons as required to safely slide a Plus Sized individual quickly to safety in both vertical and horizontal evacuation routes.

Once sufficient persons have been gathered to safely move the Plus Sized individual to safety and the EvacPRO+ is made available all that remains is for the gathered number of persons to be formed into a team. It is one thing to involve multiple persons but team work is essential if the load is to be shared equally and effectively. Every successful team has a captain, a team leader, one individual to take charge and co-ordinate the others. So, in any multi person evacuation team of 3 or more it’s essential that one person steps up to synchronise the efforts of the others involved if the risk of a manual handling injury is to be kept to an absolute minimum when evacuating a Plus Sized person in an emergency.

For more information, go to www.3et.co.uk

Top image: EvacPro+ provides ‘lots of handles for lots of people’.

Gary Wilson is Technical Director for 3ET and served for 31 years in the UK Fire & Rescue Service, specialising in Plus Size rescues for more than 12 years.

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