While being pushed, spat on and kicked might be just “part of the job” for emergency service workers – paramedics say it’s time to fight back.
A Riverina paramedic has thrown his support behind a push for body cameras to combat growing assaults against emergency service workers.
The Health Services Union said it’s members are sick of being treated like punching bags when assisting those who need it.
It’s an issue that paramedic John Larter is no stranger to.
“It’s difficult to say how often it happens, I mean how long is a piece of string?” he said.
“It’s the nature of the job really.”
HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said the call is on the back of ongoing and consistent assaults on paramedics who are “just trying to do their jobs”.
“We want at least two officers on each vehicle when we do respond to cases to reassure there are safety in numbers and we think it’s worthwhile pursuing paramedic activated cameras,” he said.
“This may stop individuals who are verbally violent or potentially dangerous.”
NSW Ambulance Service figures reveal one paramedic is assaulted every 27 hours.
In the Murrumbidgee region, paramedics responded to 6038 incidents from October to December last year.
Mr Larter said some paramedics would experience an assault against them twice a week while others might avoid an incident for five or so years but would support anything to increase workplace safety.
“There would obviously be constraints with regards to the use of it and keeping incidents confidential but if it is providing welfare for paramedics then I would support it,” he said.
“If it acts as a deterrent then it’s a positive.”
Mr Hayes said the cameras, trialed in Melbourne last year, would be activated by a paramedic who was feeling threatened.
“If someone is violent, activating this camera could deter it from escalating,” he said.
“It won’t stop every situation but it might make some people stop and think twice.”
Mr Hayes said the cameras were just the beginning of measures needed to ensure paramedics safety.
“We need the appropriate staffing numbers, the training, communication with police and preventative devices,” he said.
“There is no silver bullet to this and we have to look at a whole range of options.”
While Mr Hayes said the cameras were primarily a preventative measure, the footage could form evidence in court.