PARAMEDICS are being attacked by drunk or drugged revellers, and six workers have been assaulted around NSW in the past two weeks alone.
The Ambulance Service of NSW responded yesterday to the rise in attacks by saying they would adopt a zero-tolerance approach to violence against emergency workers.
‘‘Paramedics are not punching bags,’’ the service’s acting chief executive, Commissioner Mike Willis, said.
‘‘It’s a sad reflection on society when emergency-service workers aren’t held up by the community with the respect they rightly deserve,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s disappointing and it’s time we drew a line in the sand and let paramedics get on with their jobs unhindered.’’
Physically or verbally assaulting or hindering a paramedic is a criminal offence, with penalties of up to five years’ jail.
‘‘We will be pursuing offenders to the full letter of the law,’’ Mr Willis said.
He urged people to consume alcohol responsibly over the holiday season.
‘‘The aggression against paramedics has increased over the past few weeks – we can’t put our finger on the cause,’’ he said.
‘‘[But] the violence we’re seeing 99per cent of those times is due to alcohol and drugs.’’
Paramedic Nathan Williams was recently thrown to the ground by an intoxicated patient, injuring his knee.
He has pressed charges but says most paramedics don’t report assaults to the police.
‘‘The majority of paramedics out there have either been assaulted themselves over the course of their career or have definitely witnessed it,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re pretty reasonable and easygoing and we roll with the punches, for lack of a better term, and don’t report it unless we’re assaulted to the point that we’re injured.
‘‘Right or wrong, that is the case, and it’s far more widespread than people realise.’’ AAP