Belfast Telegraph

Get tough on thugs who target medics

Editor's Viewpoint

Attacks on paramedics and ambulance crews are as common as they are reprehensible, and this grossly anti-social behaviour is in the headlines once again.

In Lurgan, an oxygen cylinder was hurled at the windscreen of an ambulance, badly damaging it. While the crew were treating a patient who had been stabbed, a man opened the side door, removed the cylinder and used it to try to shatter the glass.

Fortunately, the crew were able to return to base and to transfer to a spare vehicle to continue carrying out their work.

In a second incident, this time in north Belfast, a paramedic was assaulted by a patient he was treating, but thankfully he was not seriously injured.

In recent years there have been numerous attacks, with ambulance crews and paramedics being bitten, punched, and, in one incident, subject to a sexual assault.

There are hundreds of similar incidents each year, which add to the stress of paramedics who are already doing the kind of high-pressure job which most people would find difficult, if not impossible.

The role of a paramedic requires a special temperament to deal with all kinds of distressing situations, and the courage to cope with whatever trauma arises.

These professionally dedicated people set out on journeys where, quite often, they are not sure what to expect, or the degree of distress and illness they might encounter.

It could be someone suffering a heart attack, a stroke, or a collapse of some kind. It could be the scene of an accident, but it should never become a crime scene where those people coming to help are the victims of assault.

Paramedics deserve all our support and gratitude. Anyone waiting for an ambulance in an emergency knows only too well the stress involved, and also how much the medical crews are appreciated when they arrive.

Despite this degree of public service, the unwarranted attacks on paramedics continue, and, in many cases, they result in injuries and distress which cause the victims to have to take time off work.

The gross stupidity of those who attack paramedics is difficult to fathom, but such behaviour should be utterly condemned.

Those found guilty of such acts should be given the stiffest possible sentences to punish them and to deter others from such appalling behaviour.

Belfast Telegraph

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