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Paramedics assaulted and ambulance damaged in seventh attack in two weeks on North East's ambulance crews

North East ambulance crews have been the victim of violent attacks for the third weekend in a row since lockdown restrictions were eased.

By Sarah Sinclair
Monday, 27th July 2020, 6:21 pm

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The latest incident in a shocking wave of violence against the North East Ambulance Service occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning on the A19 near Peterlee.

A crew based in the Cleveland area were travelling back to base when they passed a man walking up the A19 dual carriageway in the opposite direction.

The double-crewed ambulance stopped, put on their blue lights to protect the man from oncoming traffic, and offered to take him to safety in the back of their vehicle.

Ambulance crews were assaulted for the third weekend in a row.

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But once on the ambulance the man became aggressive, causing damage to the vehicle and physically assaulting the crew, punching one of them in the left side of his head with a clenched fist.

The crew moved away from the vehicle for their own safety and police arrived on scene shortly after to arrest the man.

Deputy chief executive Paul Liversidge said: “Our crew stopped to help a man who was clearly in a dangerous situation on the road. He told them that he had been drinking with friends and was now walking home. For their thanks in trying to help him, our paramedic was punched across his face and another vehicle has been damaged.

“We can repair and replace our ambulances, but the physical and psychological harm caused to my crews is far more serious and has a longer-lasting impact.”

Damage caused to an ambulance in the early hours of Saturday. Photo: North East Ambulance Service

Mr Liversidge said CCTV footage from the back of the vehicle would be handed over to the police.

The incidents, in Blyth, South Hetton and South Shields, took place over a seven-hour period as demand on the 999 service spiked.

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MP Grahame Morris, whose Easington constituency covers Peterlee, has called on courts to use their full range of powers against those who assault emergency workers.

He said: “Like most people, I find the idea of someone attacking an emergency worker, who is trying to help them, as completely incomprehensible.

“I am concerned about the attack on an ambulance crew working in East Durham on Sunday. There needs to be a clear message that attacks on emergency workers will not be tolerated and that offenders will be arrested and prosecuted. There should also be an expectation that if you commit such an offence, the most likely outcome will be a custodial sentence.

"These assaults are terrible for staff health, well-being and safety at work.”

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