999 crews attacked twice in fortnight

AMBULANCE service bosses have warned of a zero tolerance policy towards assaults on their crews after two attacks in recent weeks.

Annie Davidson

AMBULANCE service bosses have warned of a zero tolerance policy towards assaults on their crews after two attacks in recent weeks.

The incidents - including two staff being allegedly assaulted by a man they were trying to help - have led to the East of England Ambulance Service issuing a stark warning to the public.

Trevor Redburn, an assistant general manager for the ambulance service in north Essex, said it was “unacceptable” for staff to be physically or verbally abused while they were trying to help people - and that prosecutions would follow.

Mr Redburn said: “When you are asked into someone's home to help them, the very last thing you expect is to be repaid with physical or verbal abuse.

“It's unacceptable for anyone to be threatened, but particularly so when attacks are made on our staff who are there to help save lives and give aid to the public.

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“All of our staff have the right to carry out their duties without fearing for their safety.

“We have a zero tolerance approach to assaults on staff and always pursue prosecution as far as possible.”

In the most recent incident last week, two female paramedics were allegedly verbally abused by a male motorist who was waiting to pass their parked ambulance.

The pair had been called to Weetman's Drive in Colchester shortly before 7pm on January 13 to treat a seriously ill patient and could not avoid blocking the narrow road when parking the ambulance.

Mr Redburn claimed: “The alleged verbal assault took place after a male motorist complained about not being able to use the road.

“The crew were subjected to extreme and unacceptable behaviour.

“The driver became very aggressive and threatening, and the crew saw no alternative but to ask for urgent police assistance.

“Luckily the police arrived within minutes which prevented the situation deteriorating.

“We are very grateful to the police for their support and prompt attendance.”

A man will appear in court later this year following the incident after being charged with failing to produce a Hackney Carriage licence on demand to a police officer, failing to be in possession of a driving licence as a taxi driver and threatening behaviour.

The other incident, which took place at the end of last year in Harwich, saw a patient allegedly physically assault the ambulance crew which was treating him.

Mr Redburn alleged: “This case is particularly troubling because the accused assailant was a patient who was being treated by our crews when he suddenly lashed out at them.

“Our staff called for police back-up, which arrived within two minutes.

“Fortunately, both members of staff were uninjured but were understandably shaken up by the incident.”

A 38-year-old man was charged with common assault and will be appearing in Colchester Magistrates Court on February 12.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk