It’s not a hidden fact that Emergency Services personnel get assaulted often. Some older crews would have you believe it’s an acceptable part of the job.
Most of the time you do just put up with things, letting your eyes glaze over as some delightful individual slates your abilities to perform as a worthy human being as well as a medic. And as threatening behaviour eventually turns to violence you can’t help but think what great job satisfaction you’re getting from choosing a profession designed primarily to help others.
Just at the end of our time with Joey, our first placement student, we had an evening of delightful altercations.
First up, spitting. On our way to the fitters to get our truck sorted, a young lad riding his bad-boy moped, arguably lacking positive direction in his life, decided to take offence at us. And chasing us down in some traffic offered to lecture his worldly wisdom to me via the drivers side window. After his inarticulate spout of East End banter I opened my mouth to reply . . . sadly however, I was instantly greeted by what can only be described as an “oral money shot” – i.e. he gobbed in my face. How so much lumpy, sludge like phlegm could be generated a nano second after such a ridiculously fast verbal output was simply beyond me. But it must of taken years of practice. And needless to say my face was now covered in it, with some even going in my eye. Great.
Obviously, Mr East-End-Kind-Generous-Soul-Butter-Would-Melt-In-His-Mouth-Twat-Features immediately turned about and left the scene at high speed. But not without me getting his number plate first. And soon afterwards we were making statements at the local cop-shop and then getting my eye irrigated at the hospital.
During the period after this attack a kindly DSO (Duty Station Officer) gave me a sound debrief . . .
“Would you like to go home for the rest of the shift?”
“Good heavens no!”
“Are you sure? We all know what it’s like to be spat at in the face. I’d rather be punched in the face to be honest. And god knows what we’d do to these little fu. . . . sods if we were able to get hold of them – so the last thing I want you to be doing later in the shift is punching some poor old granny in her kidneys because of some flash backs to this incident”
I assured him this would not happen and that everything was fine. And it was strangely enough. We’d given a good description of the assailant, his number plate and even a tissue with his DNA encrusted phlegm on it to the Police to help with investigations so the outlook was positive . . . I hoped.
However, later that evening – our last job ironically – we went to a drunken homeless Eastern European who’d been caught being a nuisance at a train station.
Within seconds of being helped onto the ambulance he’d grabbed me and took his first swing. His fist was gently deflected and rather amusingly struck himself in the forehead sending him reeling back into the police outside.
In hind sight he should have been carted away then . . . but he wasn’t. And en route to hospital he struck out at my crew mate Marvin, which meant further restraining. And again at hospital waiting to hand over to the staff he started lashing out – resulting in yet further restraining.
The golden finale though, was when we’d finally got him on a bed and were walking out of the room. He leapt up onto his feet with gazelle like speed and, screaming and shouting, started charging out the room, throwing punches as he went. As I backed through the doorway his first swing clipped my eyebrow. His second however, didn’t get the chance . . . and with one swift kotegaeshi move he was thrown to the floor with a crash. As I followed through with an arm lock, my DSO’s words of advice came ringing back to me.
“. . . the last thing I want you to be doing later in the shift is punching some poor old granny in her kidneys because of some flash backs to this incident”.
Well, it wasn’t a granny and it wasn’t a punch. And, in fact when I look back on it even now, it was purely self defence. So, I’d like to think we were clear of any malicious intent.
The irony of this whole event was that within minutes of leaving the hospital and driving down the road we got caught up in an incident whereby our Eastern European friend had been ejected from the hospital by security and promptly arrested down the road by police. Even then he was still throwing punches. Once we were recognised the police kept us on scene for statements . . . meaning our off-job got us off late – again.
So, all in all, an interesting evening’s shift. Joey was able to see the darker, more ugly side to our job. This was something I would rather he didn’t see but I guess it’s important to understand these things early on. When you talk to other crews, there are plenty of horror stories out there, most far worse than mine above. Thankfully the Ambulance Service is starting to take bigger steps in seeing that the people responsible receive the strongest possible sentence for their crimes . . . but I fear there’s still a long way to go.
In the end we only did three jobs that shift and I was assaulted twice . . . but if you count the moment a one year old patient ‘maliciously’ kicked me in my arm whilst I was examining him then it was three times! And they all count.