Belfast Telegraph

Riot gear could make us targets, say paramedics

By John Porter

Paramedics have said they fear having to wear protective riot gear as it could potentially harm the public's perception of them as being impartial during disturbances.

Specialist Hazardous Areas Response Teams (Hart) have been undergoing training in order to protect themselves in riot situations.

They will wear equipment similar to that of the PSNI and will use armoured vehicles to protect themselves and their patients - although these will be driven by police officers.

The protective clothing worn by the paramedics and their vehicles will clearly identify them as health workers, the Ambulance Service has said.

A number of paramedics have voiced concerns over the move.

"There is a fear among those in the service that they will not be seen as impartial at riots," said one ambulance worker who asked not to be identified.

"They are spending millions on training, but most feel they should just allow the fire service and police to do their jobs. That's the way it's always been - why change now?"

An Ambulance Service spokesman said anyone with concerns should raise them with their union or management.

Hart teams are staffed by volunteers who operate behind police lines. They are used in dangerous situations such as riots, where it is difficult to get access to patients.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph