Source: State Government Health Dept
The State Government will launch a public awareness campaign after assaults on paramedics have nearly doubled in two years. Health Minister Jack Snelling said any incident of violence and aggression towards health workers in our community is one too many.
“Paramedics are here to save lives – the next life they save might be yours,” Mr Snelling said.
“This increase in reported attacks is very alarming and totally unacceptable.
“These hard-working ambulance officers are here to help others and they shouldn’t be subjected to any type of abuse.
“That is why the Government will be ramping up its effort to remind all South Australians of the great work our ambulance officers do and why any acts of violence or aggression will simply not be tolerated.”
In the 2013-14 financial year, there were 99 incidences of violence and aggression against ambulance officers, compared with 78 the year before and 57 the year before that.
That represents a 74 per cent increase in just two years.
Mr Snelling said of the 99 incidents last financial year, 34 of these are recorded as the most serious types of assault including deliberate bites, kicks or punches.
That compares to just 18 incidences in the most serious category just two years ago.
SA Ambulance Service Chief Executive Officer Robert Morton said the service had a zero tolerance policy against violence and aggression.
“Under no circumstances will the SA Ambulance Service tolerate any violence or threat of violence, whether verbal or physical, against our staff,” he said.
Mr Morton, who is also an intensive care paramedic and regularly treats patients, said the current situation is simply not good enough and issued a stern warning.
“There is no excuse for abuse. We do everything we can to respect patients, we ask the community to show the same respect for us,” he said.
“Assaults on our staff are one of the lowest acts in our society and we will pursue anybody who assaults a paramedic or ambulance officer to the full extent of the law.”
Types of assaults can range from physical assaults (punching, biting, kicking) to threats of assault, verbal assaults or people deliberately exposing paramedics to blood or bodily fluid.
There has even been one incident of an ambulance being deliberately t-boned by a member of the public.
In 2009, the State Government strengthened legislation to deem assault of emergency services workers as an aggravated offence.