A HIGH percentage of paramedics are assaulted during the course of their career, a Charles Sturt University paramedics lecturer said.
Alex MacQuarrie’s revelation comes in the wake of a brutal attack on a paramedic in Sydney over the weekend.
The paramedic came to the aid of an intoxicated 21-year-old man in George Street during the early hours of Sunday morning. He was allegedly punched, kicked and pushed by the man.
Mr MacQuarrie said being a paramedic can be a dangerous occupation.
He spent 20 years as a paramedic in Canada. During his career he has been assaulted a number of times.
“There are all kinds of potential threats for a paramedic,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s because the patient is injured, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they might be violent or have an altered mental state and are not thinking rationally.
“The police can arm themselves but paramedics go in without any defence other than their intuition and knowledge"
“Sometimes we need to transport people to hospital who are under arrest, so they are not in a good mood and act out against any kind of authority.
“We have a duty to care for them, but at the same time we must look after ourselves.”
Mr MacQuarrie said he believes paramedics should be afforded the same protection under the law as police.
“The police can arm themselves but paramedics go in without any defence other than their intuition and knowledge,” he said.
“The penalties for attacking a paramedic should be significant, and people need to be made aware of what the consequences are.”
Mr MacQuarrie said there are other dangers for paramedics, such as treating someone by the side of a busy road.
Sometimes a patient infected with hepatitis C or HIV spits on a paramedic. Paramedics must also be cautious of needlestick injuries.