Commissioner Ray Creen, NSW Ambulance Chief Executive, has expressed alarm at the mounting number of violent acts against paramedics so far this year – which includes three paramedics allegedly assaulted within 24 hours.
Since 1 January, there have been 35 reported incidents of violence against paramedics (involving 47 paramedics in total).
The latest incident occurred on 3 March 2014 when NSW Police were called to Ryde Hospital at 6.30 pm after a paramedic was allegedly punched in the face. Police are still waiting to formally interview the 50-year-old person of interest.
On Sunday, 2 March 2014 at 8 pm, paramedics were called to an address in Dee Why to assist a male patient. NSW Police will allege that, as two of the paramedics treated the 33-year-old, he attempted to punch them and threatened them.
The man was arrested and taken to Dee Why Police Station where he was charged with common assault and intimidation. He was bailed to appear before Manly Local Court on 12 March.
Commissioner Creen said paramedics were on the road to treat patients and potentially save lives and should not have to face the fear of an assault each time they responded to a Triple Zero (000) call for assistance.
He said NSW Ambulance launched its ‘If you hurt a paramedic…’ campaign last December in a bid to curb the violence, however paramedics continued to suffer from appalling acts.
These included a male paramedic who was allegedly punched in the abdomen after the offender tried to break into an ambulance on 2 January at Campbelltown; a man who allegedly flicked blood at a paramedic at Pagewood on 26 January and another who threatened two paramedics with a screwdriver in Blakehurst on 15 February.
“Our paramedics are being punched, spat on, physically threatened and terrorised,” Commissioner Creen said.
“It is unconscionable that they are heading out with a view to rendering medical assistance and ending up requiring treatment themselves. Such harm ranges from physical injury to emotional and psychological impact which sometimes prevents a paramedic from returning to the road. It is a sad indictment on society when a paramedic becomes increasingly vulnerable to attack and it is a situation NSW Ambulance will not tolerate.
“NSW Ambulance has a zero tolerance policy to any form of violence towards our paramedics and offenders can expect to be pursued to the full extent of the law,” he added.