25 Hurt in Hot Coal 'Team-Building' Walk

13 were hospitalized after Swiss event
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2022 5:35 PM CDT
25 Hurt in Hot Coal Walk
Ouch.   (Getty Images/RuslanKaln)

A company team-building exercise in Switzerland apparently didn't go the way the firm intended it to—although participants will have a shared experience of extreme pain and injured feet to bond over. Authorities say 25 people were treated for burns after they walked across hot coals at a private event near Zurich on Tuesday night, and 13 of them were hospitalized for treatment, the BBC reports. Authorities said the group walked over a bed of hot coals several feet long and started experiencing pain shortly afterward.

The response included 10 ambulances and two emergency medical teams, authorities said in a statement. SwissInfo reports that the event was organized by the Goldbach media group, which says nobody was forced to take part. Walking barefoot over hot coals or embers, also known as firewalking, is a rite of passage in some parts of the world and is often used in motivational exercises—and since coal conducts heat very poorly, participants usually aren't injured as long as they walk quickly. It's not clear if there was "an issue with the set-up of the coals or with how the group walked across them" at the Swiss event, the BBC notes. (Around 40 people were hurt at a Tony Robbins firewalking event in 2016.)

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