Fifty Shades of Red

Many of us once in every while lose our marbles, go off our trolleys, join the funny farm. We are sometimes just plain wacko, bonkers, nuts, loony, certifiable, batty, bonzo, daft, as mad as a hatter. For proof, we turn to the London Fire Brigade (fire department, to our North American readers). The service has just issued its list of 1,300 unusual incidents since 2010 that get them called out on emergency, in addition to much more serious events such as building fires, and other man-made and natural disasters. The lists make for some very embarrassing reading, and includes: head stuck in toilet, hands stuck in blender, genitals (male) stuck in toaster.

From the Guardian:

It sounds barmy doesn’t it, the London Fire Brigade telling people about men putting their genitals where they shouldn’t? But the fact of the matter is people put body parts in strange places all the time, get stuck, and then call us out to release them. We’re not just talking one or two; our crews have been called out to over 1,300 “unusual” incidents since 2010 – that’s more than one a day.

Granted, they’re not all penis-related, but some are very silly: people with loo seats on their heads, a man with his arm trapped in a portable toilet, adults stuck in children’s toys, someone with a test tube on his finger. And a lot of handcuffs. More than 25 people call us out every year to release them from these. I don’t know whether it’s the Fifty Shades effect or not, but I can tell you this, most are Fifty Shades of Red by the time we turn up in a big, red fire engine with our equipment to cut them out.

We launched our campaign, #FiftyShadesofRed, in a bid to highlight some of the less conventional incidents we’ve attended over the past few years. We tweeted about the incidents from our account, @LondonFire, which certainly raised a few eyebrows, not least among some of my international firefighting colleagues who were surprised to see us putting it all out there, so to speak. This included nine instances of men with rings stuck in awkward places; nine people with their hands stuck in blenders and shredders; numerous people with their hands stuck in letterboxes; a child with a tambourine on its head … the list goes on. We’ve even been called out to rescue a man whose penis was stuck in a toaster. The mind boggles but the message is serious: use some common sense and remember we’re an emergency service and should be treated as such.

It all seems like a bit of fun, but actually when people call us out in these circumstances, they perhaps don’t realise that our firefighters are then not available to attend genuine emergencies, such as fires. Yes, accidents do happen, and sometimes situations can’t be avoided, but I think an awful lot of these incidents could be prevented if people applied some good, old-fashioned common sense. Using handcuffs? Wear the key round your neck. Potty training a toddler? Watch them like a hawk so they don’t end up with it stuck on their head. Like wearing rings? Lovely, but if they’re too small, don’t force them on.

As well as attending each call being time-consuming, it is also pretty expensive, with each costing just shy of £300 of public money. Yet despite many of these call-outs being a bit wacky, they can also be very stressful and painful to those trapped, and some are potentially life-threatening. People getting trapped in machinery, or falling on to fences and getting impaled spring to mind. I’d like to reassure everyone that if there is a genuine emergency, and someone’s in need of our help, we will of course always attend.

Read the entire article here.

Image: Handcuffs. Courtesy of Wikipedia.