Warwick paramedic speaks out against violence towards emergency service staff

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A Warwick-based paramedic who was attacked by a bystander while trying to treat a patient has shared the story as part of campaign to highlight the problems faced by those in his profession.

The number of ambulance workers being attacked, verbally abused or threatened while doing their job continues to be a real concern with more than 200 cases reported last year.

Described as a ‘gentle giant’ by his wife, Andy Allsopp of the West Midlands Ambulance Service has spoken for the Under Attack campaign launched by the service, describing his experience.

He said: “He pushed me back towards the ambulance and it was quite frightening. I was concerned about how my female colleague would be feeling in the situation because it was quite intimidating. He had two friends with him so we were outnumbered three to two.

“In that sort of a situation I just felt like it was just me and him and we were looking at each other and I maintained eye contact with him because I didn’t want him to go elsewhere. And then he hit me, on the chest because I moved out the way, he hit me three times and at its at that point when things start to get out of hand like that that you need to think about pushing the panic button, the emergency button on your radio, and I gave a signal to my colleague and we pushed it. When we push to button it goes through to control who can hear everything and they notified the police who, credit where it is due, were there within about three minutes.

“I know I’m a big lad, and a strong person, but I haven’t been back to the car park where the incident happened and I try and avoid it. There isn’t just that physical side to it there’s the mental side too.

“Going to the police station and giving your statement means it takes an officer off the road and you’re also hoping that your colleagues aren’t called to an incident on the M40 and an officer needs to be available.

Under Attack is aiming to raise awareness of the problems faced by operational medics, ambulance bosses and trade union leaders who are now calling for tougher sentences for those people who attack and abuse ambulance staff.

Mr Allsopp said: “One incident can be so distracting. We hear about it so often that staff are being physically and emotionally abused on jobs and it really is time to stop it.”

Conflict resolution training is now an essential part of ambulance staff security aimed at helping them to defuse potentially violent situations.

Gerard Ellis from STAND2 said: “These are all essential defensive physical skills that people need in order to keep themselves safe. The ethos of our training quite simply is to avoid situations, but there may be occasions when staff members cannot do that. So they need these essential skills in order to keep themselves safe. That may include emergency control techniques. By definition, it’s a last resort but it may be necessary based on the circumstances.”

To watch the video of Mr Allsopp telling his story visit https://officialwmas.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/under-attack/ or to follow the campaign look for @officialwmas on twitter or West Midlands Ambulance Service on Facebook.