The abuse faced by ambulance staff is being highlighted today (February 28th) in a national campaign titled #WorkWithoutFear.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives says its workers deserve respect from all the people they are helping and their families.
The campaign will feature several staff from all over the country who have been the victims of assault. This includes West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics Deena Evans and Michael Hipgrave. Their attacker was jailed for nine years after he stabbed them when they went to help him in Wolverhampton in July 2020.
Ms Evans said: “Following my own horrific experiences, I am supporting this campaign to try and prevent my colleagues having to go through what Michael and I have endured. Being attacked so violently by someone I was trying to help completely changed me as a person and I became introverted and scared of going out. But that fear went away as soon as he was sentenced to nine years in prison.”
The AACE says every day last year, 32 ambulance staff were abused or attacked; more than one every hour of every day during the whole of last year, totalling 11,749 staff. This is an increase of 4,060 incidents over the last five years.
Daren Mochrie, Chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) and Chief Executive of North West Ambulance Service said: “Unfortunately, ambulance staff face the possibility of violence, assault and aggression every time they start a shift. When they occur, these attacks have a significant and lasting impact on the team member, affecting every aspect of their life”
He added: “Despite that, ambulance staff continue to turn up for work in order to help and serve their local communities.”
The most significant rise covered the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when assaults jumped up by 23 percent compared with the year before.
The attacks ranged from common assault to serious onslaughts involving knives and weapons.
The #WorkWithoutFear campaign aims to encourage the minority of people who might commit these offences. The AACE says it wants to highlights the profound impact of this abuse on the everyday lives of ambulance staff. .
Mr Mochrie said he hopes the campaign effectively raises awareness of the impact aggressive behaviour has on the individuals it is inflicted on. He reiterated that abuse against his staff is totally unacceptable in any form.
He added that he would like to see more consistent sentencing in these crimes. He said: “The Assaults on Emergency Workers Offences Act 2018 legislation is in place, but we must now see the judiciary consistently using that to issue the most appropriate sentences to those found guilty of committing these appalling crimes.”