Assaults against emergency staff in Wales rising

Emergency workers in Wales are increasingly being attacked at work, new figures show.

Welsh Wales ambulance stock
Welsh Wales ambulance stock

In the period from April 2019 to November 2020 there were more than 4,240 assaults against police fire and ambulance crews in the country.

The monthly number of attacks rose by 10 per cent from 2019 to 2020 when there was an average of 222 assaults each month, the Welsh Ambulance Service said.

Incidents ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse.

Of these incidents, 58 per cent took place in the south east and more than a third were committed by offenders under the influence of alcohol.

Now with pubs set to reopen fully on Monday emergency workers are appealing for members of the public to treat them with respect and to work with and not against them.

The figures show there were 629 assaults on Welsh Ambulance Service staff in the 20-month period while two thirds were committed against police officers, and of those a third resulted in injury.

Among those injured was paramedic Darren Lloyd, who was assaulted by a patient in Bangor, Gwynedd, in April 2019, a result of which the man was jailed for four months.

Mr Lloyd explained: “We’d been called to a man who was reported to have taken an overdose, so we administered an antidote to try and revive him. When he came to, he punched me twice - I was caught unawares, I wasn’t ready for it.

“Patients put their trust in you and we put our trust in patients so when something like this happens, it catches you off guard.

“It puts you on edge and it changes you. It makes you hyper-aware at other jobs now, and you question everything a lot more.

“You question why it happened and what you did wrong.”

In a separate incident in Porthmadog in May 2019 an emergency medical technician was assaulted by a patient who was later jailed for six months.

The mother-of-three said: “I was pinned to the corner of the inside of the ambulance by a patient who was drunk, and my colleague and a member of the public had to drag him off me.

“He was shouting in my face, kicking me and verbally abusing me. In the meantime, an urgent ‘Red’ call came in for a baby who had taken ill so we had to leave.

“I didn’t think it had affected me at the time, but a couple of weeks later, when another patient became irate, I took myself off to the ambulance and burst into tears.

“I saw him in the street when he got out of prison and my heart was in my chest.

“It’s two years on now, but what happened has stayed with me. The first thing I do when I go into a patient’s house now is look for the exits.”

In 2018, the maximum sentence under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act was doubled from six months to 12 months in prison, but criminals could soon face up to two years in prison under new laws.

Welsh Ambulance Service chief executive Jason Killens said: “The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us.”

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