10 Aug 2010

Paramedics say they need more protection, too

2:07 pm on 10 August 2010

As escalating violence from patients and visitors has led some hospitals to beef up security, the country's largest ambulance officers' union says violence against its members need protection too.

A survey by the the National Distribution Union has found a quarter of its members are physically assaulted, grabbed or pushed at least once a month.

The union has asked St John Ambulance, the largest provider of ambulance services, to issue stab-resistant vests, but has been told it is not under consideration.

Union spokesperson Craig Page says the safety of ambulance officers would be improved by abolishing single-crewing, better risk assessment by dispatchers and tougher penalties for assaults.

St John chief executive Jaimes Wood questions the union's survey ings, saying it would mean 750 assaults occurred each month, wheras according to the organisation's figures there were 43 assaults last year.

However he told Morning Report the number of assaults has been increasing, and he would take note of the union's statement, look at the issue again and change things if need be.