Paramedics assaulted as they attend patient in Cookstown
A Northern Ireland ambulance crew have come under attack as they attended a patient in Cookstown at the weekend.
The two members of crew were injured and as a result are unfit to work following the attack in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The crew were preparing the patient to be taken to hospital when they were approached by a passer-by who appeared to be intoxicated.
He began by verbally abusing the crew and then physically assaulted the Paramedic.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said the crew member was pinned to a wall before knocking him to the ground where he sustained injuries to the head and right hand.
The other member of the crew secured the patient safely in the ambulance before going to assist his colleague.
The assailant then turned his attention to the second crew member. While trying to avoid this attack, the second crew member also sustained a head injury and damaged his knee in the fall.
The assailant then left the scene and the crew checked on the patient and began reporting the incident to ambulance control.
While this was happening the assailant returned, got into the driver’s seat and attempted to drive the vehicle from the scene.
However, due to a security device installed in NIAS vehicles, the engine stopped as soon as the handbrake was released.
The vehicle continued to roll down the incline without any effort of the intruder to prevent it from so doing and it was only as a result of the quick actions of the paramedic, who re-applied the handbrake, that the vehicle did not career into a building.
When the vehicle came to a halt, with the nearside mirror rubbing along the gable wall, the assailant then started to kick out at the equipment on the dashboard damaging the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) screen (through which call details are relayed to crews) and the Sat Nav screen.
He again left the vehicle and the crew drove from the scene to the nearby PSNI station. The assailant was arrested a short time later.
As the crew waited at the PSNI station - another crew was despatched from Dungannon to complete the original call.
The crew members themselves were taken to Antrim Area Hospital and after treatment were discharged and advised, due to the head injuries, not to drive themselves.
As a result of the attack both members of staff are unfit for duty.
A Northern Ireland Ambulance spokesman said: "While there is a financial cost (yet to be determined) to replacing this equipment, NIAS is more concerned about the physical injury and emotional distress caused to our staff members.
"The Trust condemns utterly this latest attack on our crews. It is extremely frightening, in the early hours of the morning, to be faced with such naked aggression and it is not something which anyone should be asked to tolerate – especially ambulance crews who dedicate themselves to saving lives and caring for the vulnerable.
"We would encourage that all those who assault ambulance crews performing their duties should face custodial sentences, regardless of excuses proffered. Our staff must feel safe when dealing with patients; their focus must be free to ensure they are providing the highest level s of clinical care to those in need."
In 2014/15 ambulance crews were assaulted on 251 occasions.
Police said a 39-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident on suspicion of a number of offences including assault, criminal damage and attempting to take a motor vehicle without consent.
He has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Belfast Telegraph Digital