Increase in attacks on ambulance staff

First published in News

A GROWING number of ambulance workers are being attacked or verbally abused and threatened while doing their job in Sussex.

Paramedics and technicians, some of whom were left with injuries including bruises or cuts, reported 55 physical assaults while dealing with emergencies over 12 months.

The figure, obtained by The Argus from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), is higher than the 51 attacks the year before.

Verbal threats and abuse have also gone up from 109 to 120, sparking concern among staff about the figure rising further. Some workers have been left with psychological and emotional problems as a result of being involved in an incident.

One paramedic, who asked not to be named, said incidents involved people who were drunk or on drugs. However others include those who were suffering mental health problems and were not aware of what they were doing.

The paramedic said: “Most people are absolutely fine but you do get that minority who cause problems and can get aggressive when all we are doing is trying to get on with our job.

“It can happen when they have been on a night out and have had too much to drink.

“We need to make sure everyone gets the training and support needed so they know how to deal with situations.”

SECAmb local security management specialist Colin Taylor works with the police to ensure, where possible, that those responsible for assaulting or threatening a member of SECAmb staff are held accountable for their actions.

He said: “We work hard to ensure that our staff are not placed at risk but sadly a very small minority of the members of the public our crews come into contact with behave in a manner which the over- whelming majority find totally unacceptable.

“We encourage staff to report any incidents, both physical and verbal, and will always look to work with the police and CPS to prosecute those responsible.

“We are thankful that only a low number of these assaults resulted in the need for hospital treatment. “However, one assault is one too many and our staff should never feel this is just part of the job.”

The latest figures cover the period from April 2013 to the end of March.

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