Held at knifepoint and verbally abused – North East paramedics share their stories of violence while working

The North East Ambulance Service has launched a new campaign in which staff are sharing their experiences of abuse they have received while at work.

The More Than A Uniform campaign is aiming to highlight stories from ambulance crews and those working in the trust’s Emergency Operations Centre about the abuse that staff at the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) face while working.

Paramedic and father-of-three Dave Puddy has been with NEAS for more than 20 years and shared his experiences of being attacked while working.

Dave Puddy has been with the NEAS for over 20 years and was held hostage by a man with a knife.

He said: “I’ve been in lots of volatile situations over the years but thankfully have only been physically assaulted three times.

"The first time I was kicked by a drunk female, the second time I was kicked by a drunk male and the third time I was held hostage by a man with a knife.

“You don’t go home and tell your loved ones about your day when things like this happen. You don’t want them to be thinking when you walk out of the door that you might not come back.”

Kerry Cowell is a health advisor who works in the NEAS operations centre, who said that abuse is now just a normal part of the job.

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She added: “Unfortunately, being verbally abused is now normality as a call handler.

“I have been sworn at, screamed at, threatened and have also been told by one lovely gentleman that he would be waiting for me after work.

"As awful as it sounds, the pandemic came as a little light relief as callers were kind, considerate and thankful for our help.

“Unfortunately, now lockdown is easing, its plain to see that it's going back to ‘normal’ and that is not okay.”

You can read more stories from Dave and Kelly’s colleagues by clicking here.

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