As the region’s ambulance service launches a campaign against abuse to staff this week, one Lynn-based paramedic has told of her own experience of assault on the job.
Lisa Fippard, who has worked for the ambulance service for 11 years, has shared her story in conjunction with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s (EEAST) Don’t Choose to Abuse campaign.
Ms Fippard 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.”
Ms Fippard said he walked out to the ambulance and had calmed down.
“He said he was having a bit of back pain, so I gave him Entonox (nitrous oxide) in the ambulance,” she added.
“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 said it has made her more conscious about being by herself in the back of an ambulance.
“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.”
Her attacker was jailed for 18 weeks following the assault in October last year.
EEAST’s campaign Don’t Choose to Abuse to highlight the problem of assaults on ambulance service staff and to remind the public there is zero tolerance against any form of abuse against emergency workers.
Every year, the number of assault against ambulance staff increases.
Over the 2016/2017 period, more than 250 physical assaults were recorded against staff from EEAST – an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.
Robert Morton, EEAST chief executive, said: “Ambulance managers, staff and volunteers work hard to save lives and protect the vulnerable in our communities.
“It is totally unacceptable that they face violence and aggression, whether in person or over the phone, when they are trying to do their best for our patients.
“If someone is drunk or has taken drugs, they are still responsible for their actions.
“There is no excuse. Our staff should be able to do their job without fear of being attacked.”
In a survey of EEAST staff, more than 10 per cent said they regularly experience physical abuse whilst working.
“We continue to work closely with the police to ensure that action is taken against those who assault our staff,” Mr Morton added.