It's not OK: Paramedics take a stand against violent, aggressive behaviour

NORTH East paramedics are taking a stand against physical and verbal attacks in response to a recent court case.

Slogans stating “it's not OK to assault paramedics” have been written on ambulances, after a Melbourne court case that outraged paramedics.

Amanda Warren, 33, and Caris Underwood, 22, were jailed for attacking paramedic Paul Judd in 2016, but had their jail sentences quashed on appeal on Tuesday.

Mr Judd was treating an unconscious man when he was bashed, receiving injuries needing three operations, and hasn’t been able to work since.

Ambulance Victoria Wodonga and Wodonga West team manager Mike Fuery said a local crew were recently “subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse by a patient they tried to treat". 

“They were quite controlled and respectful. Despite that, the patient was very slow to rein in their behaviour,” he said. 

A paramedic had to take five months off work following an assault by a drug user on two staff in Wodonga about three years ago. 

“We feel the judiciary has let paramedics down across the state by basically allowing violent behaviour to prevail,” he said. 

Wodonga MICA paramedic Tegwyn McManamny said fortunately, violent assaults were uncommon in the area.

But she said paramedics were often confronted with verbal abuse while on the job, which appears to be becoming more prevalent.

“Violence towards any sort of emergency service personnel is never OK,” she said.

“We’re very concerned about safety on the job.

“It’s common for us to be verbally abused at scenes where emotions are running high.

“Pretty much every paramedic, including here in Wodonga, will have stories about scenes being dangerous, either due to patients or friends of patients.”

Drugs and alcohol are often a cause of violence, Ms McManamny said.

But she said such large, drunken gatherings were “the sort of environment known to have problems”.

“There has been a history of that in Wodonga of late where things get out of control and large groups of people are intoxicated,” the MICA worker said.

“We need to be able to do our job without fearing for our safety.

“We can’t help the public if we’re in fear of our safety.”

A 2017 campaign noted Victorian paramedics dealt with aggression and violence 5000 times a year.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said changes would be made to the law.