Assaults on emergency workers in Wales are on the rise, as new data reveals that more than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, representing a 10% monthly average increase from April 2019 to November 2020.
Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse. More than half (58%) of incidents took place in South East Wales, and over a third (37%) were committed by people under the influence of alcohol.
There were 629 (15%) assaults on Welsh Ambulance Service staff over the 20-month period, from paramedics to control room staff. Among them was paramedic Darren Lloyd, who was assaulted by a patient in Bangor, Gwynedd, in April 2019, a result of which the man was jailed for 16 weeks.
Darren said: “We’d been called to a man who was reported to have taken an overdose, so we administered an antidote to try and revive him. When he came to, he punched me twice and said: “You’ve fucked up my last hit!” I was caught unawares, I wasn’t ready for it.’
“Patients put their trust in you and we put our trust in patients, so when something like this happens, it catches you off guard. It puts you on edge and it changes you. It makes you hyper-aware at other jobs now, and you question everything a lot more. You question why it happened and what you did wrong.”
Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs. Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised. A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally.”
Two thirds of the assaults (66%) over the 20-month period were committed against police officers, one third (33%) of which resulted in injury.