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Medics facing growing violence


15 April, 2008  

Medical staff arriving before police at the scene of a violent incident are walking into a “danger zone”, a union has said.

Paramedics and ambulance crews are put in a “terrible dilemma” because they are trained to save lives but are often putting their own safety at risk, according to research by Unison.

The union published a dossier of incidents ahead of its annual health workers’ conference in Manchester, showing that medics face growing problems of violence and verbal abuse.

The conference is to call for greater co-operation between the police and the ambulance service to protect crews against booze-fuelled violent attacks.

Unison complained that the emergency response time for ambulance crews is eight minutes but there is no target for the police.

It said crews often arrive first facing a potentially dangerous situation.

Karen Jennings, Unison’s head of health, said: “Paramedics are faced with a terrible dilemma when they arrive on scene and are faced with gangs of drunken thugs.

“We need greater co-ordination with the police to prioritise situations where ambulance crews maybe walking into danger.

“Paramedics have to decide whether it is safe to get to the patient or whether they should wait for the police to arrive at some unspecified time.”

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