The emergency services – designed to be there for us in our hour of need, all too often fall victim to abuse and attacks from the people they are trying to help. The culprits, in most cases, are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to data from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB), there were 98 reported attacks on paramedics in 2011-12. Just 3 years on, this figure jumped to 126 reported attacks for 2014-15, and rose again last year to a staggering 184.
Although these figures are alarming, it is likely they take in to account only a proportion of the incidents that take place. Paramedics feel dissuaded to report attacks as any pending investigations take them away from performing their duties.
SECAMB Security Manager, Adam Graham said current safety measures included; CCTV, risk assessments and conflict resolution training, but has called for a government-led task force to tackle the problem more thoroughly.
In an example of the violence faced by our ambulance service, paramedic Gemma Fitzgerald suffered a broken jaw whilst trying to help a lady who had collapsed in the street, “When we got there, she was lying in the road and we knew that she was quite agitated, screaming and shouting at passers-by”, explained Ms Fitzgerald.
“She became really verbally abusive, so we backed off and made sure the road was safe with the ambulance and called the Police. But whilst we were waiting for them, she actually started to attack a friend and started to hurt herself.”
Ms Fitzgerald went on to explain how the aggressor began lashing out and managed to kick Ms Fitzgerald off her feet who had been kneeling down beside her. After a visit to the hospital, it was revealed that the blow had broken her jaw.
Bea Adi, from Unison commented on the importance of preventing these incidents occurring in the first place, as opposed to delivering sanctions post attack, “It’s not just about things like CCTV, it’s about educating people to let them know the impact that these incidents have on people who are working to protect them.”
NHS Protect said it undertook research into assaults in the ambulance sector, including aggravating factors such as likelihood of injury, times incidents were most prevalent and the demographics of the perpetrator.
It said it was working to provide guidance for the future and the protection of NHS staff.
Original Source: BBC News