Belfast Telegraph

Belfast ambulance crew taken hostage on 999 call

By Claire O'Boyle

Paramedics were held hostage at a house in east Belfast after responding to a call that a patient had fallen.

An emergency crew went to the address in the Dunraven Avenue area last Wednesday morning - and had to call for police back-up to get them out.

Officers arrived at the address shortly after 9am and arrested a 52-year-old man.

The man arrested was later charged with false imprisonment and improper use of electronic communications to cause anxiety before being bailed until August 4, when he will appear at Belfast Magistrates Court.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) revealed attacks on its staff are an ongoing problem, with more than eight incidents recorded every single week.

"Attacks on our crews continue at a rate of more than eight a week," the spokesperson said.

"This situation is totally unacceptable.

"We have previously highlighted the impact that these attacks have on the communities we serve in terms of crews being stood down mid-shift and the potential for the loss of life as a result of reduced cover following these assaults.

"In addition we remain very concerned about the impact of such assaults on the health and wellbeing of our staff.

In October it had also been reported that attacks on ambulance staff were running at more than eight a week.

That same month, a paramedic in Londonderry was attacked by a patient and pushed violently through the back doors of his ambulance, falling out onto the road.

The following month, paramedics were threatened by a man with an imitation gun as they responded to a hoax call about a sudden death in east Belfast.

The spokesperson said the assaults are "not something which our crews are able to forget about within minutes".

"We have evidence to show how the impact can be felt years later and the events can be relived by our crews at any moment in time," they said.

"NIAS will continue to call for the full rigour of the law to be applied in instances where evidence against an assailant is clear and indisputable."

Belfast Telegraph

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