‘We’re not going to tolerate that’: Abuse against paramedics, first responders on the rise, survey finds

Click to play video: 'Zero tolerance for physical or verbal abuse of paramedics'
Zero tolerance for physical or verbal abuse of paramedics
Physical and vocal abuse of Peterborough Paramedics will not be tolerated – Aug 22, 2018

There has been anecdotal evidence of it for years: that paramedics, responding to high-stress medical situations out in public, can be targeted by the anger of patients, family or bystanders.

Now, a new survey of paramedics has uncovered solid numbers to back this up

“They found that 66 percent of those [paramedics] were suffering some form of abuse … during their work, each and every year, and that breaks down to 26 percent being physically abused,” said Randy Mellow, Chief of Peterborough Paramedics.

“A lot of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, things of that nature, and we’re seeing an increase in that here in Peterborough and we’re not going to tolerate that.”

READ MORE: Paramedics in Kingston say employee assaults are on the rise

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Dr. Blair Bigham, resident emergency physician at McMaster University, was part of the team that crunched the numbers on violence . Bigham, who has worked as a paramedic, said he’s found the physical and verbal assaults to which he was exposed were one of the worst parts of the job.

“It’s no so much the patient who is dying of a traumatic injury that I find stressful, it’s the conflict that I have with people on the scene, with other health care providers trying to get the best care for that patient” Bigham said.

READ MORE: Ontario woman charged after bucket of vomit thrown at paramedics: police

Chief Mellow went on to say it’s important that the paramedics themselves realize that being physically or verbally abused while working should not be written off as simply “part of the job.” Unrecognized, it can contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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