News Item Three

Was it worth it?

Published on 13/02/2006
Original article at news and star

By Hazel Mollison

A RECORD-breaking Carlisle man who raised 2,000 for charity in a firewalk stunt has cost the taxpayer 3,000 for hospital treatment to his severely burnt feet.

Scott Bell spent 10 days in hospital with serious burns after his 250ft walk across red-hot coals at Belah School two weeks ago.

Mr Bell, 46, of Great Orton, was admitted to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary the day after he smashed the world record for the longest firewalk.

He had braved temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit to raise money for the primary school and Carlisle Active (Mencap).

Mr Bell, who runs a fire-walking company with his wife, was treated as an emergency in-patient in the plastic surgery ward.

His hospital stay was prolonged when his feet became infected.

A spokeswoman for Newcastle upon Tyne's NHS Trust said the cost of the bed and treatment worked out at approximately 300 a night.

Steven Jeffery, a consultant plastic surgeon at the RVI, suggested there should be a tax on high-risk activities such as firewalking.

He said: "Every dangerous sport carries with it a risk of injury.

"Smokers have a higher risk of cancer, but we tax them a lot more. Perhaps organisers of firewalking events should be expected to pay."

He said it is possible to fire walk uninjured as the contact time with the hot coals is very low.

But he said: "This chap shows that sometimes it can go wrong.

"The problem is once you burn the nerve end it becomes insensate. You do not actually feel any pain and you're able to continue."

Mr Bell was released from hospital last week. He is waiting for confirmation of his record from Guinness World Records.

"After it happened my feet got a bit warm. I went to the Cumberland Infirmary but they sent me to Newcastle," he said.

Mr Bell and his wife Diane set up their business six months ago. They travel the country doing firewalks for charity and corporate events. Both their children, Adam, 14 and Chloe, 12, have tried firewalking.