Stab vests for paramedics?12th November 2007
Paramedics' unions have said that ambulance staff are constantly "at risk" because they are not fitted with stab vests.
At the present time only crews working in London, Essex and Dorset are given the vests. Figures reveal that there were 1,006 physical attacks on paramedics in England in 2006/7.
The Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP) has been calling for ambulance personnel to be issued with the vests for over a decade.
The APAP's Jonathan Fox - a working paramedic - said rising crime increased the risk of "serious injury" to the ambulance crews who treat people at the scene of their accident.
Mr Fox said: "Although the majority of public we serve are fine, there
is a disproportionate minority of people that we attend who can turn
violent and it's this risk we are trying to address."
Mr Fox spoke about being attacked by a drug addict who he was attempting to treat for an overdose. Luckily he was wearing body armour as protection - given to staff by the London Ambulance Trust in 2003 - as the man was kicking him.
Matt Whitticombe, APAP's North West regional secretary, said the prevarication of administrators over whether to issue body protection left ambulance staff at risk. He added that body armour offered a complete "package" which ensured paramedics could work safely.
A Department of Health spokesman said the government took the threat "seriously" and added: "Ambulance crews... can have stab vests if it is decided they are necessary by their local NHS trust."
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