Tuesday 1 November 2011

No excuse

"Emergency Service workers assaulted - Again"

As I grew up, I was led to believe that the emergency services were good people. The police caught the robbers, the firemen dragged people from burning buildings and paramedics helped people who were hurt. The thought of attacking these good people was not a notion that had ever crossed my mind. It wasn't until I was old enough to read or be interested in reading the news that I began to hear of the violence and abuse which emergency services have to deal with on a daily basis. 

Obviously, wrong as it is, the police expect it and are used to it, and therefore are trained to deal with it. Battons, CS gas and Taser guns are but a few of the things at their disposal. The firemen, who do not have such tools nor the training do however have strength in numbers. They generally respond 2-3 engines at a time and lets be honest, 18 fireman isn't an easy target for abuse. We however, travel in pairs at best, often solo in a car with only a 1/2 day course in conflict resolution.

Verbal abuse is a daily occurrence as are threats of violence, but more worryingly acts of violence are becoming common place. In the past year or so, only a handful of high profile incidents are reported on the news, most notably the crew who got shot at. This however is not an isolated incident. I personally have had a knife pulled on me, been punched and kicked, spat at, had bottles thrown at the ambulance and that's just in the last year. I've had friends chased with poles, pushed down stairs, surrounded by youths, had threats to their lives and driven at. These don't make the news, they simply become mess room moans.

We are an ambulance service, we work horrible shifts, long hours, night and day, rain and shine to help people. We shouldn't have to go to work with fear of assault or abuse. The fact that stab vests are standard issue speaks volumes of the state of this country, but what is going to be done about it? The signs in the trucks say how anyone who abuses the staff will be prosecuted blah blah blah but in reality nobody is. Nothing happens. The CPS never have enough to prosecute and the police rarely take it further than diffusing the situation. What will it take for something to be done to solve this problem? Crews to be crippled or killed? Will there be public outcry then? Every one knows the problem exists but no one is willing to make a zero tolerance stand against it and until they do, going to work with the fear of getting sworn at, spat at, punched or kicked will be the norm.

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