I was very saddened to read a story in the media in the last couple of weeks which stated that abuse towards paramedics has shot up significantly in the last few months, particularly in the West Midlands where I live.
A survey has revealed that paramedics have been spat on, kicked, bitten and even worse, threatened with rape. In addition, they have been the target of abuse from members of the public for “blocking” driveways and accesses with their ambulances when attending to seriously ill patients with life-threatening conditions. Abusive notes were starting to be left on ambulances attending to people in need. One of the more recent instances that received a huge amount of media coverage was back in February this year, when a young lady who was named as Kirsty Sharman left this note on an ambulance that was parked across her driveway.
And the best part? Kirsty doesn’t even have a car and was able to get out of her house despite the ambulance. It was merely the actions of a very horrible, nasty and selfish woman. The public reacted very strongly to this woman and story, and rightly so.
The Rise in Abuse and Violence Towards our Paramedics
It hasn’t just been this incident, recently the number of stories I’ve seen in the press where paramedics have been the target of abuse, violence and threats seems to have shot up. I just don’t understand or get how we can abuse and be nasty to the very people who could one day save our lives.
Paramedics are the first on scene when someone is taken ill or has an accident and they quite literally are the difference between life and death on many occasions. I have had first hand experience of just how hard paramedics work and how vitally important they are to all of us when my Dad was taken ill in October 2017. He suffered seizures out of the blue and my Mum rang 999 immediately – within 10 minutes an ambulance and paramedics were at my parent’s house and if it wasn’t for them he may not be here now. Not only do I owe a huge amount of thanks to the paramedics who attending in the ambulance, but also to the gentleman who talked to my Mum on the phone in the control centre who told her what to do, to check my Dad was still breathing and to get him into the recovery position.
I wrote an open letter to the West Midlands Ambulance Service at the time as I was so grateful to the paramedics who attended to my Dad and for helping to save his life. I knew how important paramedics are to us, as are all the emergency services, but I didn’t realise just how important they are until I saw the amazing work they do first-hand.
BBC1 “Ambulance” and Watch “Inside The Ambulance”
At around the same time a series was on BBC1 called “Ambulance”, which focused on the West Midlands Ambulance Service and showed what life is like for paramedics as they go about their shifts and the kind of things they have to deal with on a day to day basis. In a word, I was shocked. I was shocked to the core and couldn’t believe just how abusive and horrible some people were towards the paramedics who were only trying to help. They had a usual amount of elderly people to deal with who had fallen, or who had been taken ill and didn’t want to go to hospital (which is understandable when you get to that age as I bet you think you will never come out) but having to deal with drunks, drug addicts and those who needed treatment but who point blank refused it was harrowing.
A second series is currently on BBC1 and I particularly love “The Two Nats”, they are brilliant! My heart was in my throat though when paramedic Natalie Greaves received a phone call to say her 16-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy was being rushed into hospital unresponsive. I will never forget the look on Nat’s face as the other Nat took her to the hospital to meet the ambulance bringing her daughter in, it is every parent’s worst nightmare. Luckily Nat’s daughter is reported to be doing well after her ordeal.
Another series was also on the Watch channel on Sky called “Inside the Ambulance” and this series again focused on the West Midlands Ambulance Service but showed more of what goes on once a patient is inside the ambulance and what the paramedics have to do to treat them. I followed both series like a hawk and every time I watched an episode I was filled with pride and awe for our paramedics, who put themselves in the front line to treat people who are taken ill or in accidents day. I admit hand on heart that I couldn’t do it, so it is wonderful that there are those out there who can.
Rob Moore and the #BlueLightHappy Campaign
In response to the abuse and violence that seems to be an everyday occurrence, paramedic Rob Moore who works for West Midlands Ambulance Service started a campaign on social media called #BlueLightHappy. The public were encouraged to share stories of the positive impact that paramedics have, and the campaign soon went viral. Rob appeared on all the main news channels and I was delighted when he agreed to be interviewed for “Cyber Geek Girl”. He is a credit to his profession and it was so heartwarming to see some positive news about paramedics!
Last weekend I had first-hand experience yet again when we had to call an ambulance for my Dad when he had further seizures, and again I cannot fault how quickly they came and attended to my Dad and got him up to hospital to be checked out. I owe paramedics so much as without them my Dad may not be with us now.
This is my pledge and promise to every paramedic:
If you need to block my driveway with an ambulance or paramedic car, feel free to block it for as long as you like. There is nothing more important than tending to someone who needs you.
If you need the loo, a hot coffee or tea on a chilly day or a cold drink on a hot day, as we say in Italy – “mia casa e tua casa”, or “my house is your house”.
If I see any of you when I am out and you are on a break, feel free to jump the queue and go ahead of me to get a coffee or something to eat. I will gladly stand back and let you go first to get what you need.
If I see any of you when I am out about who happen to be on a break getting something to eat or drink, let me get it for you. It is the least I can do for everything you do for us all.
As well as this pledge and promise, I also have a plea to make to the public:
Please don’t be nasty, abuse or be violent towards paramedics. They are only trying to help and one day you may need them to save your life. They are human beings just like you and deserve to be treated with the same respect and common courtesy that we expect for ourselves. They are worth their weight in gold and they should not subjected to any kind of violence, abuse or nastiness from anyone. One day it may be your life they are saving, or the life of a loved one. Please think about that and remember it before you open your mouth to be nasty to them, or before you are violent towards them. They do not deserve it and should be allowed to do their job to the very best of their ability without being worried about being abused or a patient being violent towards them.
I therefore ask every member of the public to take the following pledge and share it on social media with the hashtag #ParamedicPledge:
I pledge to treat #paramedics and those working for the emergency services with courtesy and respect. I also pledge never to be abusive, violent or nasty to any paramedic while they are doing their job, and I will never call for an ambulance unnecessarily #ParamedicPledge.
You can download the following graphics to share on your social media channels or create your own using the hashtag #ParamedicPledge:
If you live in the West Midlands you can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know how much you appreciate our paramedics and the hard work they do.
Take the #ParamedicPledge pledge today and tag a paramedic on social media if you know any to let them know that they matter. Let’s all show paramedics how much we appreciate and value them. After all, one day it could be your life they are saving, or the life of one of your loved ones.