Unprecedented attacks on 11 ambulance staff condemned as disgraceful
Eleven on-duty ambulance staff were assaulted over an “unprecedented” six-hour period on the eve before and in the early hours of the Twelfth of July.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said that the assaults took place at four different locations, when crews were responding to calls to provide medical treatment to patients requiring assistance.
It said that five staff members were punched, kicked, bitten and spat at at a bonfire site in the Carrickfergus area, in what it called the “most serious” of the incidents.
“They also had threats made on their lives,” a statement said.
“Those assaulted at this call included a paramedic student who is unlikely to have experienced anything like this before.”
The other assaults took place in the Forthriver area of Belfast, in Belfast city centre and in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn.
NIAS chief executive Michael Bloomfield condemned the “absolutely disgraceful” attacks.
“On Tuesday night, 11 of our staff left their homes to go to their work, ready to respond to calls for assistance, from wherever they came.
“Those 11 staff should have had a reasonable expectation that their night would involve nothing more than using their skills to ensure the safety of the communities we serve.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that during the night they should be abused in the manner in which they were, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
“I spent time with our crews across Belfast on 11th July and saw first-hand the professionalism and compassion they brought to all those who needed their care.
“This is in such stark contrast to the actions of those who behaved in this way towards them.
“I can only imagine the fear these dedicated staff must have experienced in the face of this aggression. I understand that the vast majority of people appreciate the efforts of our crews but that would have been of little comfort to them at that time.”
Mr Bloomfield appealed for those with information to contact the PSNI, and called on “those with influence” in communities to state that such assaults are unacceptable.
“Our staff, and all emergency services staff, need the full support of everyone in the community, and I would appeal to anyone who has information that may lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of these attacks, to bring that information to PSNI.
“NIAS has campaigned over many years highlighting the fact that assaults are not, and should never be, part of the job. It is a very sad reflection on some in our community that these incidents continue to happen.
“We will support our staff over the next days and weeks, being aware that the physical injuries will be quickest to heal. The mental distress will likely remain with them for some time to come.
“I make no apology for placing the welfare of our staff as a priority but it also concerns me greatly that such attacks can have a serious impact on our response to emergency calls as crews are stood down and cover is reduced. Not only are our staff placed in danger but lives are put at risk by the actions of these irresponsible individuals.
“I once again call for those with influence in communities to use that to stress the unacceptability of such assaults, and to raise awareness of the impact such actions have on local communities and also to call for the full weight of the judicial system to be brought to bear on anyone found guilty of attacking our crews.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub