Belfast Telegraph

Paramedic suffers head injury in latest attack on Omagh ambulance crews

By Linda Stewart

A paramedic has been treated for a head injury after she was punched and bitten by a patient she was treating near Omagh.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said attacks on crews are taking place at a rate of more than five a week - a situation it described as totally unacceptable.

The attack took place as a crew were responding to a medical emergency in the early hours of yesterday morning, NIAS said.

Ambulance Service spokesman John McPoland said: "On arrival at the scene, a female paramedic was assaulted by the patient, who punched and bit her.

"The paramedic removed herself from the scene in an attempt to calm the situation, only to be attacked a second time by the patient she had arrived to help.

"This second assault resulted in the paramedic sustaining a head injury."

Police arrested the 20-year-old woman, who went on to assault two officers, the PSNI said.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "There is never an excuse for assaulting emergency service personnel.

"We stand firmly beside our colleagues in the Fire and Ambulance service - attacks on them will not be tolerated."

NIAS said the calls they receive in the early hours of the morning are normally serious in nature and staff are focused on providing life-saving care.

"They do not expect that while providing treatment that they will be assaulted by the actual patient," Mr McPoland said.

"Attacks on our crews continue at a rate of more than five a week.

"This situation is totally unacceptable.

"We have previously talked about the impact that these attacks have on the communities we serve in terms of crews being stood down mid-shift.

"We have talked about the potential for the loss of life as a result of reduced cover following these assaults.

"While this potential still exists, we are even more concerned about the impact of such assaults on the health and well-being of our staff.

"These assaults are not something our crews are able to forget about within minutes.

"We have evidence to show how the impact can be felt years later and the event relived at any moment in time."

The Ambulance Service said it 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.

"We are heartened at some of the recent sentences that have been passed and hope that those who find themselves before the court on such charges will face the real prospect of custodial sentences," Mr McPoland said.

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