Sunderland addresses highlighted as a danger for Ambulance crews

Ambulance crews have to cope with danger when they go to help people.
Ambulance crews have to cope with danger when they go to help people.
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SEVENTY shameful addresses across Sunderland have been flagged up as properties where paramedics could be in danger.

To protect its staff, North East Ambulance Service produces a register of high -risk addresses where crews could face violence or other trouble.

In Sunderland, 48 homes have a cautionary flag and 22 have been highlighted for incidents of violence.

Across the North East the list totals more than 700, with Sunderland second for violent homes. There are 526 properties with a cautionary flag and 165 with a violent one.

Durham and Peterlee have 20 each and Seaham has eight.

Occupants of properties on the list are notified by letter, although this does not happen if it is felt that it “may provoke a violent reaction and put staff at further risk”.

The flags are not only used when it is the patient who is the aggressor – it can be a friend or associate or even a dangerous animal.

Joel Byers, branch secretary for Unison union, said: “We will never accept that this should be a part of the job.

“There has definitely been an increase over the years in the number of violent incidents and we don’t really understand why.

“Our members are just there to help and so if they feel threatened they do have the choice of leaving a property.

“We do make sure all staff are fully trained in conflict resolution though to assist them in their work.”

The ambulance service insisted the decision to flag a property was not taken lightly and that the decisions are updated properly.

They said it was important ambulance staff had all the relevant information to ensure they are protected and so they can provide appropriate care.

A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said: “It’s an unfortunate fact of life that some people are willing to attack members of an ambulance crew.

“Thankfully, it only happens in a minority of the cases we attend. While our over-riding duty is to treat the patient in need, we also have to consider the safety of our own staff.

“Flagging an address allows us to warn a crew about what they may encounter. In some instances, the police may be asked to attend with us.

“It very much depends on the circumstances of each individual call. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for attacking people who are only trying to help.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho

PARAMEDIC Brian Dodds was assaulted while on duty as he escorted a patient to A&E at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

His wrist was badly injured in the attack in March 2010 and as a result he could not work for two months.

He also had to receive physiotherapy on his injury after the attacker had twisted his wrist round the wrong way.

After the incident the North East Ambulance Service decided to fit CCTV cameras into all of their new vehicles.

The new security system records 24 hours a day seven days a week to provide any evidence that is needed in court.