Paramedics 'violently assaulted' and ambulances destroyed after attacks on life-saving service
North East Ambulance Service crews were ‘violently assaulted’ in three separate incidents across the region over the weekend, leaving two staff in hospital and two ambulances destroyed.
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) reported that drugs and alcohol appeared to be a significant factor in all three alleged assaults, which happened on Saturday, July 11 through to the early hours.
The incidents, in Blyth, South Hetton and South Shields, took place over a horrific seven-hour period for ambulance staff as demand on the 999 service spiked over the course of the night, putting an intense strain on response times.
While treating a suspected drugs overdose in Blyth, an ambulance crew member was allegedly attacked by a man from the same house.
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After retreating to the ambulance, the man reportedly started throwing bricks at the vehicle, smashing a window.
A crew member was taken to hospital with facial injuries before being discharged.
In the second incident, an ambulance was called to an unconscious patient on a pavement in South Shields.
After regaining consciousness, the man allegedly became physically violent and damaged ambulance equipment.
There was no harm to the crew but the vehicle and the other in Blyth were damaged beyond use and will require extensive repairs.
In the early hours of Sunday, July 12, an advanced technician was reportedly kicked and punched while attending to a patient suffering the effects of alcohol in South Hetton.
The advanced technician was kept in hospital overnight by doctors before being discharged.
In all three cases, suspects have been arrested in relation to the assaults.
Deputy chief executive Paul Liversidge condemned the violence and promised the full weight and support of NEAS behind his staff to ensure justice is sought for those who suffered in these alleged attacks.
He said: “These were appalling and despicable attacks against our staff who had responded to 999 calls for help; in one case because a man was considered to have an immediate threat to his life and needed urgent medical care.
“In this case, the patient became threatening and violent towards our staff and they were only protected by the good fortune of passing by a [South Shields] police station, where they were able to stop and run in for help.”
Mr Liversidge continued: “We are seeing an increasing and very worrying trend of violence towards ambulance crews and other healthcare professionals.
“For our staff to have been put under such an enormous pressure on Saturday night because of an increase in drink and drug-related calls has become a real concern.
"We are still dealing with a coronavirus pandemic, which the sensible majority is helping the NHS to tackle.
“But the acts of a foolish minority have now spilled over to violence and these people need to be swiftly and appropriately dealt with so that they do not put any others of my staff in any danger.”