Ambulance staff undertake a difficult and challenging job in often extreme situations. Increasingly they are subjected to verbal abuse from the public on an almost daily basis as they go about their job. Every year, ambulance crews report over 200 incidents of physical assault, ranging from pushing and punching to spitting and attack with a variety of weapons. This is totally unacceptable.
They regularly respond to incidents where patients are hurt as a result of violence. They also respond to situations, which on arrival at scene may appear to be perfectly safe and innocuous, but quickly change to something more threatening. In the majority of cases where crews are threatened or assaulted, alcohol is a key factor in the incident.
The safety of ambulance staff is paramount and the Service has a number of measures in place to protect staff. All crews are given training in management of aggression and how to undertake a full risk assessment on arrival at scene to establish if there is any potential danger. If any ambulance crews feel that their safety may be compromised, they are instructed to hold nearby the scene and await support from the police, or additional ambulance crews.
As a further protective measure, addresses where there have been previous incidents of violence or threatening behaviour towards staff, are flagged in control rooms. This means that if a 999 call comes in from a flagged address, dispatch staff can request additional police support.