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Respect paramedics while enjoying the party season - Australia


Saturday, December 29, 2012 Locals are being urged to respect the role of emergency service crews, particularly across the festive season.

The Ambulance Service of NSW has issued a stark warning to people leading up to the Christmas/ New Year season not to deliberately harm or hinder paramedics as they go about their daily business of treating the sick and injured.

Acting Chief Executive of Ambulance Service of NSW Commissioner Mike Willis today outlined a zero tolerance approach to any form of violence towards paramedics.

Six separate incidents over the last two weeks saw paramedics on the job physically and verbally assaulted while simply doing their job, adding to a dreadful recent total.

“Ambulance has a clear message – we are not punching bags and you will not be excused for attacking us," Mr Willis said. 

"You may be in a difficult time, but paramedics are there to help you. Lashing out at us is never, ever ok.

“Sunday saw two separate examples of people responding to assistance by paramedics with physical abuse, and another paramedic was assaulted just last night.

“Most in our community find it unbelievable and disgusting anyone would ever assault a paramedic doing their job helping those in need, but the last two weekends add to an appalling recent tally, with paramedics suffering at least 89 separate incidents since late February.

“It’s important to note these are just the reported assaults. Paramedics all too often confronted by abuse, particularly verbal abuse, during their shift and don’t even report the incident.”

Mr Willis said Ambulance holds the welfare and safety of paramedics as paramount, and has a number of measures in place if there is a threat of potential harm or danger.

“Ambulance will report offenders to Police when there is a threat or potential threat to the safety of paramedics,” he said.

“In the most serious cases, Ambulance crews are advised to ‘stand off' and await the arrival of Police before approaching or entering the address.”

In 2010, legislation created new offences to provide better protection to paramedics and their patients.

A number of patients were charged for these offences this year.

Amendments to the Health Services Act 1997 (s67J) made it an offence to intentionally obstruct or hinder an ambulance paramedic providing services to a person, which attracts a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

A more serious level of offence of intentionally obstructing or hindering a paramedic by an act of violence attracts a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

Training programs (Violence Prevention and Safe Practices in High Risk Environments) are in place for all Ambulance Paramedics to assist them in dealing with potentially volatile patient situations and to enable them to minimise the risk of assault.

“While it may be a small number of individuals who portray these acts of assault and abuse, it is unconscionable that anyone would assault a paramedic going about their duty rendering medical assistance to those in need,” Mr Willis said.

“The Ambulance Service wants to send a clear message to these individuals that we have a Zero Tolerance policy to any form of violence towards our paramedics, and offenders can expect to be charged by Police and pursued to the full extent of the law."

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