The Fireman’s Carry: How Much Can You Lift?

The Fireman’s Carry: How Much Can You Lift?

February 24, 2014


Our bodies are capable of some truly amazing things. Everyone has heard stories of people performing incredible feats of strength in an emergency, using adrenaline and instinct to do things that would normally seem to be impossible. While they can seem superhuman, especially for untrained people, first responders and rescue workers often employ techniques that maximize their strength and allow them to do more in an emergency.

One of the oldest and most often used techniques to get an injured or unconscious person away from danger is called the fireman’s carry, or fireman’s lift, though soldiers and EMTs also often use it too. So-called because it has been frequently employed to carry victims out of burning buildings and to safety, often when special equipment is unavailable or impossible to use, the fireman’s carry involves taking someone’s full weight across your shoulders, allowing you to lift and carry them to safety without injuring yourself in the process.

When employing a fireman’s carry, the rescuer takes the victim’s full weight evenly across their shoulders, using the strength and support of their back and legs to lift and carry the person to safety. When employed properly, a fireman’s carry can even be used by a smaller person to safely move someone larger than them to a safer location in an emergency. Because the individual is lifted carefully and moved with their torso laid quite straight, it is a useful technique in that is also prevents further injuries to the victim. The fireman’s carry can be dangerous to use on someone with a spinal injury, however, so it is always recommended that, if you suspect an injury to the spine, you refrain from moving the person at all if possible.

The fireman’s carry has applications outside of carrying someone out of a burning building as well. Soldiers frequently use the technique to move the wounded to safer ground, whether a fellow soldier or civilian. The fireman’s carry is also used by other first responders who need to move someone from a dangerous situation, such as lifeguards and police officers. The technique has been used in combat sports too: judo practitioners and professional wrestlers have both used a version of the fireman’s carry to lift an opponent, especially one bigger and stronger than they are. With the proper technique, the fireman’s carry can make almost anyone into a superhero.

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