Safety first to protect ambulance trust staff

24/8/2011 (NEWS)''South Central Ambulance Service attended an incident at The Spinney Park in Gosport on Wednesday 24th August 2011 after a young boy had fallen off his bike and was suffering from a potential shoulder injury.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113032-698)
24/8/2011 (NEWS)''South Central Ambulance Service attended an incident at The Spinney Park in Gosport on Wednesday 24th August 2011 after a young boy had fallen off his bike and was suffering from a potential shoulder injury.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113032-698)
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SAFETY of ambulance staff in Bicester has become more important than ever after recent figures have shown an increase in the number of assaults.

According to figures released by the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) Trust, the number of reported assaults across the trust has increased from 60 in 2009/10 to 73 in 2010/11.

Although in Oxfordshire the number of assaults for the same periods have stayed at nine, the number of sanctions issued has dropped from two to zero.

For the current period from April 1 to August 31, the number of reported assaults stands at seven.

Mark Ainsworth, trust area director for the south said: “It is disappointing to see an increase in the number of assaults on ambulance personnel. Our staff are in the community to help and assist those in need and should not become the target of verbal and physical abuse.

“We are doing all we can to protect staff by intervening on calls where staff may be at risk and are also providing training for staff to recognise volatile situations.

“We will pursue those who assault our staff through the courts.”

Staff are encouraged to report assaults to the police and the trust says it provides support to victims.

The trust’s new double crewed ambulances are fitted with four cameras as well as three panic strips which, once pressed, lock the previous 30 seconds of recording on the cameras, record the incident and continue recording for two minutes after.

All the images are encrypted so there are no data protection issues and images are of a quality which may be admitted in court as evidence.

Although SCAS does not currently have CCTV in its rapid response vehicles or on its motorbikes, it is looking at a system suitable for cars.