Union calls for action after ambulance officer attacked

MORE than 200 ambulance officers in Queensland have been attacked on the job with the latest attack occurring on the Sunshine Coast on the weekend.

Ambulance officers' union, United Voice has called on the government to tackle the growing problem of assaults.

The call comes after a paramedic was kicked by a patient on the Sunshine Coast while she was responding to a call over the weekend.

Figures obtained by the union through the Right to Information process show between June 2013 and June 2014, there were 207 reported attacks on members of Queensland Ambulance Service.

Peter Griffey is an ambulance officer on the Sunshine Coast and a United Voice delegate. He said no one should be put in danger while they are at work, especially emergency service workers.

"Unfortunately, we've seen the number of assaults increase every year. Of the 207 reported attacks between June 2013 and June 2014, 160 of these were deliberate physical assaults," said Mr Griffey.

"These stats only look at reported cases and we know there are a lot more unreported incidents. These are worrying figures and we believe more needs to be done to reduce the number of assaults on ambulance officers."

The figures show from June 2011 to 2012, there were 199 reported attacks and the number has increased every year with 204 the following year and 207 this year.



The statistics also show the number of verbal threats against officers has remained over the 30 mark for the last three years with 33 reported instances of verbal attacks between June 2013 and June 2014.

Mr Griffey welcomed the recent announcement of tougher penalties for those who assault health workers, including paramedics but says more needs to be done.

"The government really needs to look at this issue and take action to prevent the number of assaults on emergency service workers," said Mr Griffey.

"The majority of assaults on ambulance officers happen at weekends and late at night when people are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. The government needs to re-assess licensing hours and tackle the problem at its source".

"At the end of the day, ambulance officers perform an extremely gruelling job in a highly pressurised environment. We shouldn't have to worry about our own safety when we are trying to look out for and help members of the public."

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