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Attacked as they tried to help - medics tell their stories of assaults on the job

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:23 28 November 2017

Lisa Fippard and Mark Little. Photo: EEAST

Lisa Fippard and Mark Little. Photo: EEAST

EEAST

Two lifesaving medics from the region’s ambulance service have spoken out over being attacked on the job.

It comes as East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) launched a campaign on Monday highlighting the unacceptable abuse faced by medics.

Paramedic Lisa Fippard has worked for the ambulance service for 11 years and is based in King’s Lynn. Her attacker was jailed for 18 weeks following an assault in October.

She said: “I received a call to a village outside King’s Lynn to a male reported to have taken an overdose. When I arrived at the address I knew I had been there before and it was a patient I had met before.

“He likes to play up and was being mischievous refusing to attend hospital and then changing his mind. He walked out to the ambulance and had calmed down a bit but he was not aggressive or violent.

“He said he was having back pain, so I gave him Entonox (gas and air) in the ambulance. However, he started messing around and swinging the tubing, he used it as a club and threw it at my face. It was so unexpected and hit me on my top lip causing it to bruise and bleed.

“I jumped up, asked my crew mate to stop the ambulance. I got out and shut the door and called for help. He was known to be a drinker but he was in control of what he was doing.”

Ms Fippard added: “It has made me quite safety conscious about being by myself in the back of the ambulance, even with people who are not drunk or taken an overdose.

“I never dreamed that someone would use Entonox as a weapon and it made me reluctant to give Entonox or anything that could be used against me. It made me feel more vulnerable sitting in the back. If I get called out to someone intoxicated or reportedly taken an overdose I feel on edge.

“Just because someone has had something to drink does not mean they lack capacity. It happened on my final night shift and I was on rest days for four days after which gave me a chance to relax. I am quite a strong willed character and I would not let it get to me so just got on with things.”

Mark Little, a duty locality officer in Waveney, was also a victim of an attack when he and technician Lee Hardy were assaulted in January.

Mr Little, who has worked for EEAST since 2004, said: “It was the first time in four or five years that I had a spare shift and went on a rapid response vehicle for the day. It was all going fine until 2.30pm when I got a shout to a female who had a suspected overdose and was unconscious.

“I got there and she was intoxicated and had taken drugs. She was difficult to deal with, but I explained what we were doing and she was compliant.

“When Lee arrived as backup the patient decided that she did not like him. However, because she had taken an overdose it was best for her to go to hospital.

“Once we got her into the ambulance she was like Tasmanian Devil thrashing about and was all over the place. She gave Lee a glancing blow and I was pushed over hurting my elbow.

“I hit the panic button on my radio, which we only use as a last resort if personal safety is under threat. Police were on scene in a few minutes.”

The woman was arrested and charged by police and was sentenced to 12 weeks custody suspended 12 months as well as a community order.

Mr Little said: “This incident took five hours of my time to give statements and Lee, which was 15 hours of wasted time. We need to get the message across that this is not acceptable and it is not normal to be assaulted. As a solo responder you can feel vulnerable and if I am not happy with a situation I will not advance any further.”

Every year, the number of assaults against ambulance staff increases. In 2016/17 more than 250 physical assaults were recorded against staff from EEAST – an increase of 10pc from the previous year.

Follow EEAST’s Don’t Choose to Abuse campaign using the hashtag #DontChoosetoAbuse

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