Peterborough County/City Paramedics have launch a zero-tolerance campaign aimed at curbing aggressive behaviour toward the first responders.
Each ambulance in the local fleet now sports a large sticker that sends a clear message – there is no excuse for abusing paramedics.
“All we are asking for is for paramedics to be treated in the same way patients expect to be treated, with respect,” Chief Randy Mellow said, explaining how the campaign also serves to support staff and improve their mental health.
Imagine the impact on a paramedic who sees something people shouldn’t have to see – something that most people would not ever see – during one call for service, only to be abused during the next, he said.
“(The sticker campaign) sends a very clear message to the patient and also to the paramedic, that leadership supports them and we can’t be thinking that (aggressive behaviour) is part of the job,” the chief said.
Some citizens may also argue that many patients are impaired by drugs or alcohol, but if that was a reasonable excuse for aggressive behaviour, then behaviours related to those conditions wouldn’t be against the law, Mellow pointed out.
“That’s not an excuse,” he said, adding the focus is addressing culpable behaviour.
The campaign, which was launched Aug. 20, comes on the heels of a 2014 survey that found 75 per cent of paramedics had experienced violence in the past year.
Some 1,676 paramedics, some 89 per cent of the 1,884 invited, took part in the Paramedic self-reported exposure to violence in the emergency medical services (EMS) workplace: A mixed-methods cross-sectional survey.
The most common form of violence reported was verbal assault (67 per cent), followed by intimidation (41 per cent), physical assault (26 per cent), sexual harassment (14 per cent) and sexual assault (3 per cent).
When you apply that math to the more than 100 employed by the service, it becomes clear many local paramedics have been victimized, Mellow said, pointing out how younger female paramedics have been particularly victimized. “It’s not acceptable.”
The core message of the campaign is that paramedics are there to help. “They have dedicated their lives to helping people … they shouldn’t be subjected to abuse.”
Mellow, who is the president of the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada, explained how service administrators began addressing abusive behaviour years ago by providing training on preventive measures like understanding body language and self-defence.
The national association is also examining the possibility of suggesting changes to the judicial system – such as including specific charges for paramedics, similar to those that apply specifically to police or peace officers.
“But it is the local experiences that has brought this to light for us,” Mellow said, noting how a local case currently before the courts played a role in initiating the campaign.
The effort also extends to other health care providers, such as medical staff in the emergency rooms of local hospitals, he stressed. “We have to share that awareness with them, too.”
Source: The Peterborough Examiner