It’s definitely the signs of the times. If back in the day, people were actually thankful to paramedics for their life-saving efforts, the same can’t be said today. Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy said violence committed against paramedics was a real problem, with about 13 incidents reported each day. “We’ve had more than 5,000 emergency cases where paramedics were exposed to violence and aggression last year,” she said. “It’s about time that we started upping our arsenal in order to hold people accountable for that.” Now, Victorian paramedics will wear new gadgets in a trial program designed to better protect ambulance workers – body cameras.
Up to 150 paramedics in Melbourne’s metro west region, including the CBD, will take part in the trial which follows a successful pilot by Victoria Police.
Ms Hennessy said the cameras would better identify perpetrators and help prosecute those responsible for the attacks where thousands of cases of violence and aggression are reported each year.
“We do take attacks on paramedics very seriously,” she said to ABC News.
“An assault is an assault, irrespective of whether or not it’s on a paramedic or a general member of the public.
“Often we’ve found that we haven’t been in the position to have the evidence to be able to pursue people that have been aggressive and have attacked people.”
Ms Hennessy said paramedics often faced difficult situations when treating patients, and were working more with Victoria Police for call-outs where there had been past violence.
“The focus of our paramedics has always been the healthcare of the people at the scene, it hasn’t necessarily been their own safety and wellbeing.”
“The health and wellbeing of our paramedics should not come at the expense of people that require healthcare if they are attacking our hardworking emergency services.”
Ms Hennessy said in 57 criminal law cases, assaulting a paramedic had been taken into account as an aggravating factor.