Earlier this month, two paramedics were threatened and verbally abused in Sparkhill, Birmingham over where the Ambulance had been positioned. The assault follows a string of recent attacks against paramedics on-duty in the UK.
The two paramedics were attending to an elderly woman at the time who was suffering from chest pains, when the angry driver approached them, sparking a row over where the ambulance had been parked. The individual not only directed verbal abuse at the duo but also became physically aggressive, striking one of the paramedics on the arm and forcing them to ring the police.
Following the ordeal, the 49-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of common assault, and a public order offence. However, as the two paramedics were unable to continue their urgent duties in assisting an elderly patient, this resulted in a different ambulance crew transporting the woman to hospital whilst the attacked paramedics gave statements to the police.
Why are Paramedics targeted?
The assault follows a string of recent attacks against paramedics on-duty in the UK and has been ongoing, with a report in January of this year revealing common assaults in Scotland amounted to 6,509 in the last year. This is equivalent to 17 assaults per day.
In cases such as these, Medical staff who work remotely to serve the public are equally as vulnerable as the people they assist. Working alone and during later shifts exposes lone Emergency Service workers to accidents on the road when travelling. They are also targets of members of the public behaving unpredictably and violently, especially if they are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
It is not only volatile members of the public who are prone to attacking paramedics, patients themselves who are often unstable, are also capable of lashing out. An incident which took place in December 2017 revealed how two paramedics were punched and spat on after they attempted to provide support to a man who had injured his hand. Both paramedics were badly injured by the attack and required hospital treatment.
What are the consequences?
Assaults and violence experienced by Lone Workers have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing, with many cases of post-traumatic stress proving evidence of this. This is turn affects Emergency Service organisations who are burdened with large costs amounting after sick leave and payouts for workers suffering from stress and injuries.
Labour MP, Chris Bryant describes how everyone is affected by these kinds of attacks:
“An attack on an emergency worker is, in a sense, an attack on all of us because they’re simply trying to save other people’s lives.”
What can be done?
With new government statistics confirming that attacks on Emergency Service workers have reached a three year high, protecting emergency service workers has never been more critical. Whilst on the road and without additional support, Lone Emergency Service employees are at high risk and aren’t easily safeguarded against potentially volatile situations.
Although a new offence, Assaults of Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill 2017-19 was put in place just last year to introduce harder sentences for attacking public service workers, greater measures need to be put in place to ensure the safety of lone Emergency Service workers.
How can StaySafe protect lone working paramedics?
Employees working off-site and away from base are most at risk. Apps are now increasingly being introduced to replace dedicated devices for their easily accessible and cost-effective attributes. The intuitive StaySafe app assures lone worker protection through features such as panic alerts, timed check-in sessions and GPS tracking, to assist with monitoring your lone workers whilst they carry out their duties.
A range of alerts can be sent to the hub, depending on the type of situation the user is faced with. For example, the hub will be notified immediately if a Lone Worker has triggered an alert, and deliver the best assistance to support the worker.
A lone worker can simply instigate a check-in session within the app to keep their company informed of their location and the duration of the duty they are undertaking. If a user does not cancel their session, staff at the hub will be notified and can look into this further before progressing with the next steps of action.
If an employee feels threatened or under attack, they can raise an alarm discreetly and unknown to their attacker by inputting a special duress pin. This will fool the attacker into thinking the app has been disabled when in fact a duress alert has been raised in the Hub and help can be sent immediately.