Belfast Telegraph

Violent patient forced ambulance staff to abandon vehicle and police called after 999 handler abused

Trust outlines abuse directed toward its staff

By Jonny Bell

An ambulance crew were forced to stop their vehicle and get out when a patient became violent and such was the abuse levelled at a 999 call handler that the police were called.

Those were just some of the incidents the Ambulance Service's life-saving staff were faced with while they attended calls to attend to sick or injured people over the weekend.

"Each of these calls is dealt with in the most professional manner by our staff, from the call taker to the crews who arrive at the scene," an ambulance service spokesman said.

"Despite this frontline crews and staff in control continue to receive abuse from a small minority who have no regard for their own safety or that of our staff.

"On Saturday morning a female call taker was subject to extreme vulgar abuse while taking a call from a member of the public. Although there is no acceptable level of tolerance of this behaviour, it was so bad on this occasion that details have been passed to PSNI who expect to follow it up.

"On Sunday evening a crew were treating a male patient who had himself been the victim of an assault. While transporting the patient to hospital the crew reported that the patient was becoming violent in the back of the ambulance and requested police assistance as a matter of urgency. The crew exited the vehicle while awaiting the arrival of PSNI during which time a degree of damage was caused."

He added: "It is regrettable that, once again, we find ourselves having to report this incidents in the media to highlight the fact that, despite ongoing educational campaigns, these incidents continue to happen almost daily.

"The trust welcomes the fact that courts have begun to issue custodial sentences for such behaviour and we hope that the real threat of prison can act as a deterrent to people who engage in such activity."

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