Hoarding Woes: Fire Fighters’ Safety

I have remarked that about a year and a half ago, I forced my way into my aunt’s house to find her near death. I found my aunt down, in the dark, beneath a small mountain of stuff that had somehow covered her after she went down. I called to the neighbor at the front door to call 911.

In short order, the fire fighters and EMT’s arrived and made their way into the dark home (light bulbs burned out and not replaced). They could not get a gurney or back board to where my aunt and I were. After the initial assessment, the fire fighters decided they were going to carry my aunt out. Although my aunt was a mere touch over 110 pounds, the pathway was at a minimum of 6″ to a 12″ deep of paper and hard objects. As they carried her they stumbled and slid. I steadied the one fireman by the hips to lend support but even I was slipping in the dark. She was eventually carried/angled around the open front door, which could only open a few feet. They were at risk for injuries because of my aunt’s hoarding environment. Sure, you say, that is part of their job. But, don’t kid yourself, emergency medical responders do not have to risk life and limb at every turn, particularly when it comes to fires (my aunt had two prior fires in her home from a lamp cord covered by stuff and a heating pad cord that caught fire).



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