118 homes put on paramedics' violence blacklist

MORE than 100 addresses in the Lothians are deemed too dangerous for ambulance crews to attend without a police escort, it has emerged.

Ambulance chiefs have blacklisted 118 residential properties at which police officers must be in attendance before medics enter to assist the victim.

These are all addresses where violence has been used against emergency workers in the past and is double the number of properties from this time last year.

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The constantly updated list - nicknamed red-flagged addresses by staff at the Scottish Ambulance Service - is aimed at giving a live impression of the Lothians' most dangerous spots.

Sources said calling police to 999 emergencies is a last resort, given the delays and complications involved.

Lothians Conservative MSP Gavin Brown said: "It is deeply concerning that violence towards ambulance staff has reached this level.

"The ambulance service is absolutely correct in taking any measure necessary in order to protect their staff.

"In every case of violence towards ambulance staff, and all emergency service workers, police must be called and the perpetrators prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Last year there were only 54 homes on the blacklist.

Dozens of ambulance workers in the Lothians have been attacked in the last three years, and despite high-profile campaigns against violence towards emergency workers, the number of assaults remains around one every fortnight.

An ambulance source told the Evening News that when an address was red-flagged it did mean a possible delay in attending the incident.

The source said: "In theory, you could have a crew waiting to get in there but can't because police aren't yet on the scene.

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"That may sound odd, but these places aren't listed unless there's compelling evidence."

An ambulance spokesman said: "Clearly this is in place to protect our staff, who do a difficult and challenging job helping people.

"It is important that we take the necessary precautions to remove risk of attack.

"It is hard to understand why anyone would assault an ambulance crew who are always trying to help people.

"In most of these cases alcohol and drugs are involved."

In July firefighters came under attack from yobs as they battled a blaze at the old Craigroyston Community High School.

Vandals slashed hoses as the fire raged, while the tyres of fire officers' car were burst.

In January a 16-year-old girl launched a vicious attack on a paramedic following an all-day drinking session in Fauldhouse, West Lothian.

And before that, in one high-profile case in Livingston, a female paramedic had her jaw broken while working.

Last year Livingston MSP Angela Constance spent a weekend with an ambulance crew, and reported that every single incident the team was called to involved alcohol at some level.

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