East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has topped an NHS league table for taking legal action against people who assault frontline paramedics.
Figures compiled by NHS Protect show that in six of the last seven years, EMAS has led the way in winning sanctions against people who abuse medical staff, when compared to other ambulance services in the country.
Security management specialist at EMAS, Nick Arnold, who investigates these incidents and works with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders, said: “It’s unbelievable that some people think its ok to physically assault ambulance professionals that are only there to help in medical emergencies.
“Well it isn’t ok – and it’s my team’s job to make sure we track them down and take legal action against them so they get that message loud and clear.”
A total of 69 cases of assault were reported by EMAS staff during 2014/15 and this resulted in 45 sanctions being issued.
The type of sanctions imposed on assailants can vary from anti-social behaviour orders, banning orders, tagging and even imprisonment.
“We’ve taken a zero tolerance approach for several years regarding threatening and abusive behaviour but unfortunately, some people don’t learn,” added Nick.
“Alcohol or substance abuse is often put forward as an excuse for such appalling acts but I’m afraid the legal system doesn’t work like that, and we will always push for the harshest penalties to be imposed.
“We have a duty to protect our staff and we’re doing just that. This includes having CCTV cameras installed on our vehicles so we have the evidence to prosecute.
“We communicate to all staff the importance of reporting each time they either feel threatened or that they’ve been subjected to violence and not to treat this as part of the job.
“We also urge them to report all incidents where medical equipment or the vehicle they are travelling in is purposely damaged.”
To help paramedics report incidents immediately, the ambulance service has a 24/7 telephone reporting line in operation so it can take legal action as quickly as possible.