Dozens of ambulance staff attacked in last three years

DOZENS of ambulance workers in the Lothians have been attacked in the last three years, it was revealed today.

Despite high-profile campaigns against violence on emergency workers, the number of physical assaults remains at around one every fortnight.

It is understood almost every one is related to alcohol as ambulance staff and paramedics regularly brave "shocking" scenes across the Lothians, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Figures obtained by the Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act show there have been 61 attacks in the past three years across the area, with the figures remaining fairly stable and showing no signs of easing.

David Forbes, Unison's regional organiser who is responsible for ambulance workers, said the numbers were probably underestimated given some workers' reluctance to report attacks.

He said: "Of course any attack like this is completely unacceptable, but when you consider that these people are going in trying to help people it is even more despicable.

"Not only are the attacks putting the ambulance staff at risk, but also those people they are trying to help.

"We've always urged staff to carry out almost a rapid risk assessment and if they think a situation is too dangerous to wait for the police.

"But it's not always easy, sometimes there is no telling who might do what and when."

The majority of the 61 attacks took place in Edinburgh, with West Lothian having the second most.

The ambulance, fire service and police have all come together in the past to lobby for more protection for its frontline workers, while the Emergency Workers Act gives additional protection for those involved.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One ambulance source in the Lothians told the Evening News: "Although it seems horrific to the public, it's actually a risk of the job a lot of workers just face up to.

"There's nothing really the bosses can do to stop it. It's a reflection of society as much as anything else, and almost always down to drink. It can be pretty shocking sometimes."

There are around 50 addresses in the Lothians where ambulances will not go without police because of past experiences.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "The service finds any incidents where a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work to be unacceptable."