The ambulance service in Victoria state has issued a list of places where paramedics face potential safety issues, including some where a police escort may be required.
The list, which has been compiled since 2016, flags six locations for violence. Based on previous incidents, “police attendance is required to ensure the safety of Ambulance Victoria staff in order for them to carry out their duties.”
A longer section includes 229 locations which may pose risks to paramedics, for instance due to weapons on the premises or verbal attacks against ambulance crews in the past. The data was released by Ambulance Victoria in response to a freedom of information request.
The list is part of measures taken by the service to protect its staff from harm. According to its CEO, Tony Walker, Ambulance Victoria paramedics face regular abuse and even physical attacks in the line of the duty.
The release comes a week after a controversial court ruling overturned the earlier jailing of two women who attacked two paramedics, Chenaye Bentley and Paul Judd, two years ago. The attack was apparently fueled by their intoxication and left Judd, a veteran Victorian emergency worker, with a broken foot. The injury required long-term treatment and ultimately forced him to quit his job.
The perpetrators, Amanda Warren and Caris Underwood, were given months-long prison sentences last December by the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
The ruling was appealed and overturned by County Court Judge Barbara Cotterell, who ruled that the two women made significant efforts to turn their lives around and deserved leniency due to their difficult childhoods and possible mental health problems.
Responding to the ruling, Walker said he was “extremely disappointed” about the wasted opportunity to send a strong message to those who would use violence against his staff.
“Aggression and abuse towards paramedics is completely unacceptable and in this case, Paul and Chenaye, two of our highly-trained, dedicated people were injured while simply trying to do their jobs, helping someone in need,” he said.
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