Ambulance services in northeast England are installing closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their vehicles because of an increase in attacks on paramedics by patients who are being treated.
Alun Ross, a paramedic who was punched in the face by a drunk and drug-fuelled patient, welcomed the North East Ambulance Service’s decision to install security cameras in vehicles. "I would like to think the cameras would act as a deterrent, and installing the equipment can only be a good thing,” he said.
Emergency crews now see abuse as part of their job, said Ross, who, in addition to being punched in the face, has been bombarded with verbal abuse on a frequent basis. The security cameras “will certainly make me feel a lot more safer at work, and it will hopefully help take cases to court," he added.
Brian Dodds, a County Durham paramedic who was attacked by a patient he was delivering to an emergency room, joins Ross in praising the decision. Dodds said the patient’s attack was violent enough that had to use self-defense to protect himself. Since that incident, “every time I go into a patient’s house I always look to see where there is an emergency exit in case a problem arises and I need to get out,” he added.
Under the plan, all new ambulance vehicles will be fitted with the surveillance equipment, which records 24 hours a day seven days a week. Only two ambulance service staffers will have access to the video footage, which will be used to provide proof in any subsequent court cases, ambulance officials say.
However, there has been some concern among the paramedics that the cameras will be used to observe staff, a concern Dodds dismisses. “They (the cameras) are not being put in place to spy on members of staff, but to protect them against violence,” he said.