Why Working as a Paramedic Can Be Such Dangerous Work
It is an unfortunate and even shameful truth that the dangers of being a paramedic in England are almost comparable to being a police officer. Like police officers, paramedics are often the first on the scene of an accident or assault. They are called to offer medical assistance and life-saving help and yet it can be one of the most dangerous professions around. There are, as it goes, fairly standard job hazards that paramedics have to deal with.
Regrettably, a number of paramedics die or are seriously injured in ambulance accidents each year, in addition they are exposed to contagious illnesses and diseases both airborne and blood-borne. Patients suffering from mental illness can often pose a significant threat to a paramedic’s personal safety. Paramedics also have to treat and deal with patients who are drunk or are under the influence of drugs who may not want treatment or to be taken to the hospital. Added to this already daunting list are the long hours and stress that accompany this taxing job.
But apparently this is not enough, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of assaults on paramedics and ambulance crews. In the South of England this number has risen by 22%. From 2010 to 2011, in Hampshire alone, there were 42 assaults on paramedics. In the West Midlands the number of assaults between 2011 and 2012 increased from 166 to 210, with the majority of these attacks occurring in Birmingham.
This increase has been attributed to two factors. First the increase in call-outs and second to the increase in paramedics reporting assaults. It is shameful that paramedics, who are just trying to help, are the victims of violence themselves. While some of this violence comes at the hands of intoxicated individuals, (certainly not an excuse) there are others who are simply taking their anger out on ambulance staff.
The danger of an assault is so great in some areas of England that ambulance crews are often made to wait for a police presence before they are able to assess the scene. Charges are of course brought against many of the cases of assault and a good proportion of these are successful. Simply put, yes the job of a paramedic is a dangerous one, for all the reasons that come with the day-to-day performance of the job, as well as the threat of encountering overly aggressive and violent people.
It is important to take this alarming increase in assaults on paramedics in context as a warning sign and begin to address the safety of this very necessary group of people. As much as the numbers of assaults have increased, they are still only a small part of the job and happen relatively infrequently. Becoming a paramedic is one of the most rewarding careers and is often considered a dream job for many who apply for this role. While a university degree is not required there is a tough recruitment process that all those must go through. This is where we can help, we offer insider recruitment advice to those looking to join the ambulance service as a paramedic covering all parts of the process.