Seventh attack in 14 days of violence against ambulance crews
For the third weekend in a row, ambulance crews have been assaulted and vehicles damaged so they are no longer able to respond to life-threatening emergencies.
The latest incident in a shocking wave of violence against the North East Ambulance Service since lockdown restrictions were eased, occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning on the A19 near Peterlee.
A crew based in the Cleveland area were travelling back to base in the early hours of Saturday morning when they passed a man walking up the A19 dual carriageway in the opposite direction.
The double-crewed ambulance stopped, put on their blue lights to protect the man from oncoming traffic, and offered to take him to safety in the back of their vehicle. Once on the ambulance the man became aggressive, causing damage to the vehicle and physically assaulting the crew, punching one of them in the left side of his head with a clenched fist.
The crew moved away from the vehicle for their own safety. Police arrived on scene shortly after and arrested the man.
Deputy chief executive Paul Liversidge said: “Our crew stopped to help a man who was clearly in a dangerous situation on the road. He told them that he had been drinking with friends and was now walking home. For their thanks in trying to help him, our paramedic was punched across his face and another vehicle has been damaged.
“We can repair and replace our ambulances, but the physical and psychological harm caused to my crews is far more serious and has a longer-lasting impact. Alcohol and drug misuse play a huge part in these intolerable incidents and there needs to be more done to address this appalling behaviour.”
He said that CCTV footage from the back of the vehicle would be handed over to the police to prosecute the man for assault and criminal damage.
Mr Liversidge added: “This is now seven assaults in 14 days of violence against my staff. And I make this promise to all the assailants who have been arrested. We will pursue you through the criminal courts to ensure justice is received and I call upon the courts to sentence these thugs appropriately; not just as a punishment for their despicable behaviour, but also as a deterrent to others who think they can get away with this.
“It’s not just the number of attacks we have experienced over the last two weeks, but the ferocity and intensity of these assaults against us. Enough is enough.”
In a separate incident earlier on Saturday night in Consett, a young man who was unconscious from a drug overdose was revived and brought back to life by a paramedic crew. He also became aggressive and head-butted the side of the vehicle before walking off.