Paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service face the most threat of violence from non emergency call outs that do not need an ambulance for medical treatment.
Drunk, inebriated people are the most likely to strike out or threaten an ambulance worker who are responding to their call for help. Senior paramedic Michael Langford who has worked in the service for 29 years describes the moment he was attacked by a man who’s girlfriend had called 999:
” He had a face injury and was staggering around obviously very drunk, he became aggressive as I asked him to come into the ambulance and as I went to hold his arm he went to bite my face, the police were called and responded immediately, I heard the man got three months in prison for that”
Ambulance crews are attending more call outs to people who do not have life threatening injuries or symptoms. Some intoxicated patients call 999 for a ride home by claiming they have false symptoms such as chest pains which require a ‘blue light run’ that includes a rapid response vehicle being immediately dispatched and an ambulance to follow. Patients who are refused transport or treatment for their intoxicated state are most likely to threaten or subject ambulance crews to violent behaviour. Jo Gifford an emergency tech 1 describes her last shift:
“All night we were called out to jobs that could be dealt with at a walk in centre and some needed no treatment at all, we were not called out once to a proper life saving emergency”
Michael believes that stricter filtering of 999 calls could be the key to preventing injury to ambulance crews from intoxicated ‘time wasters’. He also knows that many non emergency patients are sent ambulances because of the threat of litigation which if pursued could lose a paramedic their job.
He urges the public to remember that even though paramedics wear a uniform they are not ‘super-human’ and the uniform is not ‘body armour’ that protects them from assaults, violence and threatening behaviour.