London Ambulance Service has recruited two Violence Reduction Officers as part of its ongoing work to protect staff. The officers will work closely with the Met Police as they support victims who want to take their cases to court.
Louise Murray (left) is one of the new Violence Reduction Officers and also works as an Emergency Medical Technician out of Bromley Ambulance Station.
Louise said, “Aggression against our staff can leave them in fear, it can lead to PTSD and cause all sorts of mental health problems. I’ve seen the increase in assaults and know the impact it can have – I’ve been assaulted myself. That’s why I’m so passionate about what we are doing – making sure people have the support they need and also getting as much evidence as we can so we can push for prosecutions.
“We will do everything to support someone who has been attacked and that includes trying to ensure the attacker is prosecuted.”
Ambulance crews in London were physically attacked 59 times in August alone. New figures from the service show assaults dropped during March and April but as lockdown restrictions began easing, physical abuse has been on the rise with an average of two attacks a day.
There have been 260 violent incidents since April – usually patients or their families attacking the ambulance crews who are there to help.
Attacks include kicking, punching, head-butting and biting and there have also been nine assaults with weapons. There were 625 reported physical attacks last year and a further 713 non-physical assaults, which include threats and verbal abuse.
Managers fear the true scale of the problem could be worse as incidents are often not reported – despite a campaign to encourage staff to report all abuse.
Chief Executive Garrett Emmerson said, “Protecting our people and ensuring they are safe while they are working is a highest priority. Our crews and call handlers have made huge sacrifices to care for patients with courage and compassion – it is absolutely disgusting for them to be attacked while doing so and should not be seen as something which goes with the job. We will push for the prosecution of anyone who attacks our staff.”