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The specialist search and rescue unit will learn how to move or release overweight members of the public following a rise in calls

A new team of firefighters is being trained to rescue obese people.

The specialist search and rescue unit will learn how to move or release overweight members of the public following a rise in calls.

The unit will also be trained to deal with a range of other complex and challenging emergencies, including collapsed buildings.

Figures reveal a rise in incidents where firefighters are called by paramedics to help lift, move or release obese men and women - which are classed as 'bariatric rescues'.

There were 23 bariatric rescues in 2011, up from 22 in 2010 and 19 in 2009 - and fire service bosses say 5s iphone cases rescue animals now continue to increase.

The new Technical Response Unit (TRU) is made up of 54 firefighters, with an on-call team available for national and international incidents.

Intensive training in specialist skills has started, including techniques used to free or move obese people. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the unit would provide a 'specialist response' across Greater Manchester while still being available for day-to-day emergencies including fires and road traffic collisions.

Warren Pickstone, the fire service's head of resilience and planning, said bariatric rescues were increasing in line with national obesity levels.

NHS figures suggest 24 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women are now classed as obese.

The figures represent a sharp rise as in 1993, just 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women were classed as clinically overweight.

Mr Pickstone said: "Bariatric rescues can be complex and difficult and they must be done with sensitivity. It can be hard to move a person who is large and we have to use certain techniques

"Sometimes we have to support staircases to take additional weight and they can be time consuming, but so can other types of rescue.

"The training is not just for bariatric rescues. It can be for a host of other incidents. The skills the firefighters have will enable them to be adaptable.

"The bariatric rescues are low compared to other technical incidents that we attend."

Bosses said the brigade was dealing with more specialist incidents - like bariatric rescues, terrorist threats, rescues from height, collapsed buildings, body recoveries and trench rescues - than ever before.

Group manager Jim Hutton, who is leading the project, said: "The TRU will ensure we're giving the best possible protection to our firefighters and the people of Greater Manchester."

Two specialist vehicles will be manned from the team based at Ashton and Leigh fire stations.

Mr Hutton added: "The locations provide wide geographical cover with the ability to reach any part of the county within 25 minutes.

"This capability will be implemented with minimum cost - proving a greater service and increased public value."

The figures for bariatric rescues - revealed in the M.E.N. after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, showed more took place in Wigan than in any other area of Greater Manchester, followed by north Manchester, Tameside, Oldham and Rochdale.

During 2011-12, there were 11,736 hospital admissions due to obesity - a marked increase over the past 10 years.

And in June, it was reported that doctors in England and Wales have seen a four-fold increase in the number of children and teenagers admitted to hospital for conditions linked to obesity.

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