At­tacks and spit­ting on rise

Spit kits brought in to pro­tect paramedics

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Robert Cum­ber robert.cum­ber@trin­i­tymir­

PARAMEDICS in Lon­don are in­creas­ingly likely to be at­tacked at work, new fig­ures show.

The num­ber of phys­i­cal as­saults on am­bu­lance staff in the cap­i­tal rose by 14% last year.

There were 439 such at­tacks recorded dur­ing 2015/16, com­pared with 385 the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pub­lished by the Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice (LAS) on Wed­nes­day.

Each year, the LAS says that around 50 of its staff are spat upon by mem­bers of the pub­lic.

The dis­gust­ing act has led to the in­tro­duc­tion this year of “spit kits”, which are used to cap­ture the of­fend­ers’ DNA for anal­y­sis so they can be brought to jus­tice.

Am­bu­lance staff are also fre­quently sub­jected to ver­bal abuse, says the LAS, as are those work­ing in the con­trol room han­dling emer­gency calls.

Paul Woodrow, LAS di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions, said: “It’s ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able that our staff are be­ing at­tacked or ver­bally abused while try­ing to do their job and care for pa­tients.

“We will do ev­ery­thing in our power to en­cour­age staff to re­port these in­ci­dents and work with the po­lice and prose­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties to make sure those re­spon­si­ble are dealt with through the courts.

“All of our front­line staff re­ceive train­ing about what to do in a po­ten­tially con­fronta­tional sit­u­a­tion and are equipped with pro­tec­tive cloth­ing to wear.

“They also have ac­cess to dig­i­tal ra­dios so that they can call for help if they need it and there is an emer­gency but­ton, which au­to­mat­i­cally re­quests po­lice help.”

Tim Weekes is no stranger to the abuse di­rected at paramedics, of­ten from those they are try­ing to treat.

He was tend­ing to some­one in west Lon­don three years ago when he and a col­league were spat at by their pa­tient.

“I’ve been as­saulted a few times while work­ing as a para­medic, but one of the most of­fen­sive times was when a col­league and I were spat at while try­ing to treat a pa­tient at Ham­mer­smith,” he said.

“We re­ported the in­ci­dent and thank­fully the per­son was pros­e­cuted. These spit kits are a great idea and make it even eas­ier for the po­lice to pros­e­cute peo­ple who treat us this way while we’re try­ing to help pa­tients.”

n UN­DER AT­TACK: Fig­ures just out show there were 439 phys­i­cal as­saults on Lon­don am­bu­lance staff in the past year

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