Assaulting paramedics is 'just unacceptable'

 9news.com.au  5/17/2018 9:57:00 PM   

There are renewed calls for mandatory sentencing laws for community members who assault paramedics on the job after an alcohol-affected man punched and spit on a worker.

A paramedic is assaulted in Victoria every 50 hours, some left with serious injuries in hospital and even sometimes unable to return to work.

The CEO of Ambulance Victoria, Tony Walker, is calling for tougher laws said the violence is "just unacceptable".

The CEO of Ambulance Victoria, Tony Walker, is calling for tougher laws said the violence is "just unacceptable".
The CEO of Ambulance Victoria, Tony Walker, is calling for tougher laws said the violence is "just unacceptable".

"We've got people out there trying to save lives who are being assaulted," Mr Walker told 9NEWS.

"I was pleased to hear the Premier and the health minister come out and say the laws need to be strengthened.

"We need to have strong consequences to the community members who think it’s appropriate to go out there and assault a paramedic.

"And we are very supportive of mandatory sentencing as a real deterrent to people in the community."

Mr Walker said he never expects paramedics to enter a situation where they feel unsafe and are now providing drugs to their staff to sedate community members who could put them at risk.

"But despite that, we still have 147 people a year being assaulted while doing their job," he said.

Earlier this week, a senior officer, 44, was spat at and punched in the face by an alcohol-affected patient in Melbourne.

The paramedic suffered back and facial injuries after being called to a home in Epping.

A 22-year-old man reportedly fell unconscious after drinking excessively and shouted abuse and spat at paramedics after he was awoken.

Caris Underwood (far left) and Amanda Warren have been spared jail. (AAP)
Caris Underwood (far left) and Amanda Warren have been spared jail. (AAP)

The patient was given some sedation but the violence allegedly continued.

The incident comes after two women, Amanda Warren, 33, and Caris Underwood, 20, had their jail sentences for assaulting a paramedic in 2016 quashed on appeal.

The County Court decision prompted the Victorian government to flag a review of the mandatory minimum six-month term for attacking emergency service workers unless there are special reasons.

Premier Daniel Andrews admitted that loophole needed to be "fixed" but said the government would not rush the process.

"We're going to take the time to get this right. Poor drafting is perhaps one of the reasons we are ... talking about this," he said yesterday.

"The other reason is, of course, that some people think it's OK to behave this way."

Assaults on paramedics dropped from 234 to 147 in 2017 but crews still faced abuse, Ambulance Victoria boss Tony Walker said.

"Every 50 hours a paramedic is actually either physically or verbally assaulted," he told parliament's public accounts and estimates committee.

"And they're reporting being exposed to about 14 events a day where violence or aggression was part of the scene."

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