Belfast Telegraph

Ambulance damaged and paramedic attacked during weekend incidents

By Joanne Fleming

A man smashed an ambulance windscreen with an oxygen cylinder in one of two sickening attacks on paramedics over the weekend.

In the first incident in Lurgan, the canister was taken from the vehicle by a man while crew members were treating a patient who had been stabbed.

He then tried to put it through the ambulance windscreen, shattering the glass and putting the vehicle out of use for several days until repairs are carried out.

The injured man receiving treatment in the incident, which happened just after midnight on Friday, then said he did not want to be taken to hospital.

John McPoland of the Ambulance Service commented: "I have no idea first of all what is in the mind of anyone to go and take an oxygen cylinder from the back of an ambulance and then try and smash it through the windscreen. We really do hope that person gets a knock on his door in the near future from the PSNI."

A second attack was reported about two hours later when a paramedic was assaulted in north Belfast by a patient they had been called to treat.

The member of staff was not seriously injured and returned to work after a short period. In a statement, an Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "On this occasion the member of staff was not seriously injured and made himself available to respond to further calls from patients after a short period of downtime.

"Had this paramedic been injured seriously enough that necessitated him being stood down for the rest of his shift, large parts of north Belfast, and Belfast in general, would have had reduced cover to deal with life-threatening situations.

"We continually call for a stop to these attacks. We do not believe that they can be excused in any way as they put the safety of our staff and the wider community at risk. We will continue to call for the full rigour of the law to be applied against anyone found guilty of such attacks and we note, and welcome, the custodial sentence passed down during the week against one such individual in Coleraine - albeit pending an appeal."

Alliance Upper Bann Assembly candidate Tara Doyle described the oxygen cylinder attack as "simple thuggery".

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