The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service responded to a medical emergency in Larne on the evening of Tuesday 28 November 2017.
On arrival, the crew were confronted by a patient who proceeded to kick a crew member.
Following this assault, the crew continued to transport the patient to hospital for further treatment. En route to the hospital, the patient continuously behaved in an aggressive manner, including verbal and physical assaults on staff and attempting to damage lifesaving equipment.
PSNI were called and arrived at the scene to arrest the patient for assault, attempted criminal damage and disorderly behaviour.
This was the crew’s first call of the night, and they continued to work the remainder of their shift despite this violent incident. In contrast, the last call of their shift was to a 4 month old baby who had to be rushed to hospital. If this crew had been unable to carry on with their shift due to the earlier assault, it may have delayed the baby receiving help and getting to hospital for further treatment.
Attacks on our crews continue at a rate of more than 8 a week. This situation is totally unacceptable. We have previously talked about the impact that these attacks have on the communities we serve in terms of crews being stood down mid-shift. We have talked about the potential for the loss of life as a result of reduced cover following these assaults. While this potential still exists we are even more concerned about the impact of such assaults on the health and well-being of our staff.
These assaults are not something which our crews are able to forget about within minutes. We have evidence to show how the impact can be felt years later and the event relived at any moment in time.
NIAS will continue to call for the full rigour of the law to be applied in instances where evidence against an assailant is clear and indisputable. We are heartened at some of the recent sentences that have been passed and hope that those who find themselves before the court on such charges will face the real prospect of custodial sentences.