Calls have been made for a tougher stance on drunk and drugged up patients after a man lashed out at a paramedic called to treat him.
Ronald Oxberry put Michael Hugo in a headlock and tried to punch him after he told Oxberry he could not drink vodka in an ambulance.
No one has the right to abuse or assault someone who is simply doing their job.Gavin Brown
It had been called to 46-year-old Oxberry’s home in Swaledale Crescent, Penshaw, after he had taken 40 diazepam tablets and taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard Oxberry became abusive before he was told he could not drink and had threatened Mr Hugo by saying “I’ll knock your head off” and attacked.
Oxberry, who admitted assault, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 20 days of activity and nine months’ alcohol treatment.
He was also fined £40 with £85 costs and £85 surcharge by the bench.
Following the hearing, Alan Gallagher, head of risk at North East Ambulance Service, said: “It is totally unacceptable that they experience any kind of abuse whilst at work and we do not tolerate any form of violence or aggression against them.
“When formal criminal action is taken against people who abuse our resources and assault our staff, we hope for a judgement that will recognise the impact that they have had on the service at large and our greatest asset – our staff.”
In the wake of the case, readers have suggested a series of measures should be brought in to deter attacks and bring tougher punishments against those who do assault front-line emergency service staff.
Kate Appleby said: “This really has to stop. “Why on earth should someone be attacked whilst working in a profession thats only purpose is to help people.”
Luca Marshall, posting on Facebook, added: “Anyone who attacks a paramedic or fireman should be jailed immediately for a minimum of six months.
“Absolutely vile behaviour.”
Andre Meechan wrote: “Our ambulance service shouldn’t have to deal with drink related incidents, it should be addressed by the go or community addiction, mental health, whatever.
“The ambulance service is for emergencies only and anyone misusing them should be charged and dealt with harshly.”
Gavin Brown was among those to call for harsher action from the courts.
He said: “The sentence far too soft.
“In order to stamp out this abusive behaviour the only way is to impose a mandatory custodial sentence of a minimum of six months and a very heavy fine to hit them hard. “No one has the right to abuse or assault someone who is simply doing their job.
“In this situation the paramedic should have been able to cease treatment and put him out of the ambulance - imagine the uproar that would cause.”
Liam Ladds added: “I think people should pay if they are under influence of alcohol or drugs as other people who really needs medical attention ended up being held up.”