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Big rise in violent attacks on ambulance workers

Published 21/10/2009

The number of ambulance staff who have been violently assaulted while on duty has risen by more than 50% over the last three years.

Ambulance drivers and paramedics were assaulted more times in the last two years than ever before, statistics that the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said would not be tolerated.

Though the number of incidents decreased slightly in 2004/2005, this has risen sharply over the last three years.

John McPoland, of the NIAS, said these kind of attacks will not be condoned and stressed the amount of risk and danger involved, both for the patients and the staff.

He said: “Because staff are up close and personal with patients, who in most cases have consumed a lot of alcohol, we are more at risk from being verbally or physically abused, whether it’s from them or their friends.

“The assaults can be anything from verbal abuse to punches, kicks or things being thrown. What they don’t realise is they are putting themselves at risk as well because it stops the ambulance staff from administering treatment.

“We treat seriously any attack on our personnel who are bringing help to the most vulnerable in society. Unfortunately . . . there has been an increase over the last number of years.”

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