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Winch Used to Move English Patient Onto Ambulance

An obese mother-of-four had to be winched from her first-floor home by firefighters because the emergency access stairs could not support rescuers carrying her 30-stone frame.

Bed-ridden Jackie Chamberlain needed urgent hospital treatment for serious kidney problems and a suspected blood clot in her leg.

Paramedics and 10 firefighters spent two hours moving Jackie from her bed in the lounge onto a mountain rescue stretcher and then dragged her to the front door so she could be rushed to hospital.

They then placed Jackie, on the stretcher, onto two wooden pallets on the rooftop above the stairs and rigged a pulley system from top to the bottom before winching her down.

Husband Paul said: "The wooden stairs wouldn't have been strong enough to support my wife and the four people needed to carry her - it was a health and safety thing.

"We are now trying to find a new home so that Jackie can get in and out more easily in future. She is still in hospital but in good spirits."

As well as the mountain rescue board, firefighters had a cherry picker on standby to rescue Jackie as a back-up plan to be used in the event of an emergency such as a fire.

Husband Paul, 49, Jackie's full-time carer, revealed she was nervous about the rescue because of "the embarrassment factor".

Paul, of Melksham, Wiltshire, said: "About a year ago Jackie just gave up trying to get down the stairs.

"I packed in my job in September because she couldn't do that much for herself.

"Jackie had been not so mobile for a while and finally called the doctors after years of not feeling quite right.

"They did some blood tests and rang up to say she needed to go to hospital. She was panicking about going to the hospital and was distressed because she thought everyone was going to be laughing at her."

Jackie moved into the flat above the Boots store in Melksham with husband Paul and son Jonathan, 27.

However, in spring last year she stopped leaving the property after becoming too large to negotiate the access stairs.

In the last year she has only left home once - to attend her daughter Nicola's wedding in Trowbridge, five weeks ago.

Her obesity became so bad she suffered from severe bed sores and slept in the lounge because she was unable to use the flat's internal stairs.

Paul revealed they are now searching for a new property to live in because of fears Jackie would be unable to escape in the event of an emergency.

He said: "When we lost the house that's when Jackie's problems started. About two years ago I lost my job working for the council and the only job I could find was delivering fast food and we were eating fast food when I got in at 11pm.

"If there was a fire, the chances of Jackie getting out are rather remote."

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said arrangements are being made for the Chamberlain's to live in a new property.

He said: "We have recognised Mr and Mrs Chamberlain's need to move for medical reasons and assessed their application accordingly."


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