So many dumb ways to...get hurt

02:17, Aug 24 2014
Fire generic
LIFESAVERS: As well as their more familiar role of braving burning buildings, Kiwi firefighters have been called out to deal with a host of salacious cases.

Fifty shades of 111 calls are being tackled by the country's firefighters - who could be forgiven for hoping their next callout would be to a cat up a tree.

A man with his penis caught in an electric sander and a bevy of handcuff-related mishaps are among the more unusual incidents attended by emergency services.

But pet owners are still clogging up the phone lines, with the Fire Service receiving more than than 370,000 callouts involving cats in the past four years alone.

Documents provided to the Sunday Star-Times under the Official Information Act reveal firefighters must truly be prepared to react to any situation.

Several trapped daredevils, possibly influenced by the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, probably did not envisage having to call a man in uniform to help cut off their handcuffs with a powertool.

Other incident reports reveal police and prison guards calling for help to free prisoners stuck in handcuffs, while firefighters found themselves rescuing a child who had chained himself to a post with a pair of toy handcuffs.


One person called 111 because they had their hand stuck in a vacuum cleaner, a woman called for help when her hand became stuck in a blender, and 12 children have had their hands removed from vending machines since 2011.

In more eye-watering injuries, one man had to have his penis extracted from an electric sander while three men called emergency services for help to get rings removed from their appendages.

One callout simply reads: "man not breathing following cutting penis off"'.

Four people called 111 for help after getting their hands stuck in blenders.

There were 600 fire callouts involving portaloos and another 3000 calls involving dogs. Trees were mentioned in 100,000 cases.

Fire Service national operations manager assistant national commander Stu Rooney said the Fire Service had to be prepared for a "range of incidents".

"In many cases, the caller has turned to us for help because they did not feel their emergency was an ambulance or police matter.

"Firefighters are always willing to help people and deal with each incident professionally, providing whatever practical assistance they can."

In Britain last year, the London Fire Service ran a campaign to remind people to call the fire service only when absolutely necessary.

Calls included a woman who called 999 for help retrieving her dentures thrown out in a glass of water, and a woman who rang for help getting her husband out of a titanium chastity belt.

The New Zealand Fire Service charges $1000 for each false alarm call attended, to recuperate some of their costs under the Fire Service Act 1975. In recent years, false alarms had accounted for 37 per cent of all callouts.

Sunday Star Times