Editorial: Mindless thugs put lives at risk

By Dylan Thorne

It's disturbing to learn ambulance officers are having to call for police protection because of the dangers associated with some call-outs.

This week we reported that St John staff were having to delay attending to some patients because of the volatile atmosphere at some events.

Known addresses that present risks to ambulance staff are flagged to dispatchers who alert police before St John staff attend.

St John staff then go to a destination that's considered a safe distance from the location - around the corner, out of sight until police arrive and ensure the scene is safe.

Nationally, there were 34 reported assaults on ambulance staff last year. How could anyone in their right mind attack an ambulance officer attempting to provide care and attention to patients? No doubt the consumption of alcohol and drugs plays a part in most of these attacks.

Most people are pleased to see ambulance officers.

However, it's obvious that there is also an unruly minority determined to make an already demanding job even more difficult for ambulance officers.

Fed up with the violence, St John staff in Northland are considering the need for police escorts after an ambulance and crew were pelted with rocks.

The ambulance was returning from a job when it had to stop in the middle of the road as large rocks had been placed on the highway.

The well-meaning ambulance officers left the vehicle to clear the debris and came under fire from idiots hurling rocks at them.

It's likely that at some point in their lives those responsible for the attack will find themselves in a situation where they need St John's help.

Then, maybe, they will realise that it is an essential service for the community as the first response to medical calls and accidents. They might also realise the initial medical treatment they provide can be the difference between life and death.

- Northern Advocate

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