You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Paramedics sick of abuse, attacks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/12/2016 Sean Martin
Image of St John ambulance © Getty Images Image of St John ambulance

The St John ambulance service, sick of its officers being attacked while trying to help people, is warning its medics won't tend to the injured if they feel threatened.

Frontline ambulance officers were hit, kicked, punched, spat at, and verbally abused nearly 3000 times this year, it said on Thursday.

Up to 10 times a month officers to need hospitalisation and ongoing treatment themselves.

One paramedic had a bow and arrow pointed at his head, another had a knife held to him and told that if the seriously ill, unconscious patient died, so would he.

Another medic, on her own, was punched, shoved and locked into a room at a rural property. Fearing for her life, she escaped out a window.

"My ambulance officers have had enough," said St John chief executive Peter Bradley.

"We simply won't enter a dangerous scene, we will retreat and your mate or loved one won't get the treatment they need while our personal safety is at risk."

There was a clear pattern of behaviour related to alcohol and substance abuse, and largely at weekends, he said.

"Ambulance officers are caring, non-judgemental professionals there to help but we ask the public to respect our profession," Mr Bradley said.

"Simply, ambulance officers can't save your life if they are trying to protect their own."

In the last year:

* 2695 incidents of St John crew abuse

* about 70 per cent verbal, 30 per cent verbal and physical abuse

* Six to 10 of the 65 physical assaults reported each month are very serious

* 50 per cent of all abuse incidents involved alcohol or recreational drugs

* 15 per cent of abuse related to patients with mental health issues

* 37 per cent of abuse occurred during the weekend

* Most of abuse and assaults were in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and the metropolitan areas

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon