'Attack by Bangor patient on ambulance crew could have cost lives' says MLA
An alleged attack on paramedics by a collapsed man they were treating could have cost lives, an MLA has claimed.
Two ambulance staff came under attack in Bangor town centre when they responded to a 999 call on Friday night.
The crew also endured a tirade of verbal abuse from a hostile crowd who criticised them for stepping back from the injured man who, it is claimed, "lashed out" at them on Quay Street on the town's seafront at around 8.30pm.
A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) spokesperson said: "The crew withdrew a very short distance to request support from the PSNI but were then subjected to serious verbal abuse by a number of others at the scene."
The crew returned to treat the patient once police arrived and were escorted safely to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.
A 24-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of assault and disorderly behaviour. He has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Despite escaping physical injury, the badly shaken ambulance personnel were unable to complete their shift.
NIAS chief executive Michael Bloomfield condemned the incident which he warned could result in lasting emotional damage for the crew.
"I am sure, and staff have told me, that sometimes the fear for their personal safety is worse than the physical injuries they sustain," he added.
Mr Bloomfield called for the "full rigour of the law to be applied" against all those found guilty of attacking emergency service workers.
North Down MLA Alan Chambers said the attack deprived the area of vital ambulance cover for more than eight hours, significantly restricting the ability of the service to respond to life-threatening emergencies.
"Sometimes there are only two crews operating so this potentially reduced cover by 50% on one of the busiest nights of the week," he said.
The Ulster Unionist representative said he hoped anyone found to have been involved took time to reflect on their "appalling" behaviour.
He said the incident must be strongly condemned and now, in the cold light of day, he hoped people would realise the seriousness of their alleged actions, adding: "Lives could have been lost as a result of this."