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Paramedics punched and spat at as they attend 999 calls

NOT ACCEPTABLE ... says attacks on NEAS staff will be reported to police, says David Edwards, below.

NOT ACCEPTABLE ... says attacks on NEAS staff will be reported to police, says David Edwards, below.

PARAMEDICS in South Tyneside have been punched and spat at while responding to 999 calls in South Tyneside over the last year.

The incidents form part of a catalogue of physical and verbal attacks on front-line crews compiled by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Foundation Trust in 2013.

NEAS bosses say although assaults have fallen in the last three years, they are still happening far too often.

Forty-eight staff were physically attacked in 2013 and another 119 were either threatened or verbally abused across the region. The number of assaults is nine down on the previous year, and 39 lower than in 2011.

Five incidents were recorded by accident and emergency crews in South Tyneside.

David Edwards, risk officer for the NEAS, said: “While it’s encouraging that the number of assaults suffered by our frontline crews has dropped over the last three years, it still happens far too often for our liking.

“We have been very pro-active in recent years with the ambulance crews, encouraging them to report any incident where they are threatened or attacked.

“Historically, verbal abuse or being physically attacked was considered by some to be one of the risks of the job. It shouldn’t be.

“Equally, we have been repeating publicly that NEAS has a zero tolerance to anyone who behaves this way towards our staff. Perhaps this message is starting to get through.

“We will report incidents to the police, and support them with any prosecution they feel is suitable.

“Most of our ambulances now have CCTV cameras on board, so if an assault does occur near the vehicle, there’s a good chance it will be caught on film, which helps with any subsequent court case.

“Our ambulance crews work extremely hard, doing a difficult job in all kinds of situations.

“I wish to remind some members of the public that our crews’ sole objective is to help people who need medical attention.

“For those members of the public that choose to ignore this and involve themselves in criminal activity against ambulance crews, rest assured the victim and the ambulance service will seek appropriate sanctions. Why some people ever feel the need to become aggressive with an ambulance crew is completely baffling.”

NEAS say 29 criminal sanctions were achieved or recorded in 2011/12, compared to 25 in 2010/11 and 13 during 2009/10.

In 2011, a joint working agreement was signed by NHS Protect, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service, to tackle violence and anti-social behaviour in the NHS.

Twitter: @shieldsgazedu

INCIDENTS REPORTED IN 2013

n Date: January 15

Station: South Shields

Incident: Call to attend a drunk female patient whose male friend became abusive and threatening. NEAS staff made to feel very vulnerable.

Action: Patient was cautioned for drunk and disorderly and male was arrested for common assault.

n Date: April 2

Station: South Shields

Incident: While being escorted an drunk patient spat in paramedic’s face

Action: Dealt with at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court for drunk and disorderly, given a 12-month community order and 38-day tag. Ordered to pay £100 compensation.

n Date: June 29

Station: South Shields

Incident: Drunken mn on scene verbally abused and attempted to punch the paramedic

Action: Fined and ordered to pay victim surcharge and costs

n Date: August 26

Station: South Shields

Incident: Drunken man punched paramedic in chest

n Date: October 18

Station: South Shields

Incident: Female patient punched paramedic in chest/shoulder during a ‘domestic incident’

Action: Caution after a night in the police cells

INCIDENTS REPORTED IN PREVIOUS YEARS

n Date: January 25, 2012

Station: South Shields

Incident: Member of public became verbally and physically threatned towards staff member

Action: Instigator spoken to at home and given a verbal warning regarding their conduct

n Date: June 3, 2012

Station: South Shields

Incident: Drunkpatient threw a punch at crew member in back of ambulance while parked up at South Tyneside District Hospital, catching the victim on the nose.

Action: Found guilty of common assault at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, fined.

n Date: February 25, 2011

Station: South Shields

Incident: Aggressive in back of vehicle and caught crew member’s cheek with head

Action: Fixed penalty notice for drunk and disorderly charge

n Date: April 1, 2011

Station: South Shields

Incident: Patient became aggressive in vehicle and after releasing seatbelt, lashed out and kicked right shin of staff member

Action: Charged with common assualt and dealt with by way of a community order and requirement for alcohol treatment for alcohol dependency by or under national probation service for six months

n Date: September 11, 2011

Station: South Shields

Incident: Youth headbutted and kneed staff member

Action: 18 month suspended prison sentence, fined and supervision order

n Date: June 20, 2010

Station: South Shields

Incident: Sexual disrupting behaviour, verbally aggressive

Action: Fixed penalty notice for drunk and disorderly charge

n Date: October 15, 2010

Station: South Shields

Incident: Patient abusive lashed out broke crew’s glasses and grazed nose

Action: Fixed penalty notice for drunk and disorderly charge

n Date: November 28, 2010

Station: Hebburn

Incident: Patient threatened crew with a knife as they came to the house

Action: Convicted of affray and sentenced to six months in prison

 

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