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The Issue Of Abuse And Sheer Disregard Towards Paramedics In Modern Society

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These deplorable acts and sheer disregard towards paramedics seems to still be an increasing issue within our society. The most discouraging, and evidently, the most disturbing aspect of these attacks is that they are directed towards people whose primary goal is to provide medical care to sick or severely injured patients. Unsurprisingly, these types of behaviour ultimately destroy any sense of satisfaction received from their job, and the fulfilment paramedics should gain from playing an important role within the community. The impact of challenging behaviour, such as verbal and physical abuse, can accumulate. They can take a dreadful toll and leave a lasting imprint on paramedics, causing various long-term psychological difficulties among all emergency and rescue professions, paramedics have the greatest occurrence of PTSD, with an approximated frequency of 14.5%. Because after all, they are still human, not impenetrable walls that can sustain beating after beating, nor do they want to fight those they are trying to rescue. Like us, they’re people who want to return safely to their family after a long day of work.

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Since paramedics often communicate with the general public, the possibility of violent interactions always exists. Many of their calls occur in the absence of law enforcement, so scenes can unexpectedly take a turn for the worst. Police officers are supplied with the necessary equipment to accomplish their job and remain safe. Paramedics, on the other hand, have the tools required to save lives, yet they do not have enough training or equipment to protect their own. We should expect Ambulance organisations to do more than simply instruct paramedics to sit patiently for law enforcement or flee if the situation becomes volatile. Police officers aren’t always available, so the necessity for self-defence training is clearly apparent. For injuries among paramedics in Australia between 2006 to 2018, the total number of cases related to violence experienced increased from 5 to 40 per year and on average a paramedic in Victoria is assaulted every 50 hours. Last year, an absurd 147 paramedics were assaulted. However, this does not account for those that remained unreported.

Cultures exist that encourage and teach new members that paramedics are simply punching bags, and that they should ignore any negative treatment. Instead, should these instances arise, the offenders must be reported and punished appropriately for change to occur. Many paramedics have come to see these experiences as a part of the job…So of course, being punched, verbally abused, and emotionally traumatized are all a part of a day’s work. But, why should it be this way? Are we witnessing a distortion of societal norms that we do not abuse people who are trying to help us? It is baffling that behaviour like this goes right under the radar, while in other jobs it would be completely unacceptable for someone to go unpunished for hurting another human being. Like everyone else, those who harm paramedics need to be held equally accountable for their actions.

Moving on, Paramedics need to be trained in two areas to develop both their awareness and ability to navigate troublesome situations. First is scene awareness. Paramedics need to understand and have a firm grasp of the surrounding environment when on scene, and their positioning during that time. These forms of awareness are critical in allowing them to evacuate the scene more efficiently and be conscious of the routes that will allow them to do so. Being able to absorb various aspects of the environment will also allow paramedics to perceive any hazards such as guns before the situation escalates. Another area is that paramedics need to be able to deduce if a scene will turn dangerous or put someone in harm. Policies need to also be implemented to ensure support is immediately provided to alleviate the aftermath of trauma and ensure that paramedics are provided with adequate work hours, stress management, and sufficient resources.

The next most important step is to develop interventions that can be tested and modified in such a way that can measure how effective they have been, and work alongside researchers that can assist in testing and documenting the results. Further developments could include promoting education campaigns to inform paramedics of therapeutic possibilities and increasing the delivery of enhanced equipment to improve paramedic safety. On a broader scale, legislative efforts could be made to increase the penalties and consequences of assault, to deter potential offenders. 

09 March 2021

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