A paramedic who was assaulted during an emergency callout continued to treat his attacker for 30 minutes even after he had fractured his hand.
Former Marine John Liddle, from Great Harwood, was assaulted in the line of duty when he was called to the aid of a colleague who was dealing with a violent man who had been reported bleeding in the street.
When he arrived at the disturbing scene, he found his colleague, specialist paramedic Andrew Ormerod, ‘covered in blood’ while an off-duty police officer tried to restrain the patient.
As John, 49, attempted to help treat the injured man he lashed out at him, fracturing his hand.
John, a paramedic with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) for 14 years, said: “Andrew was stood covered in blood, I didn’t know if he’d been stabbed, or if the blood was coming from the patient so I was quite shaken at this point.
“I went to have a look at the patient to find out what was happening but unfortunately he stamped his foot on my hand.
“As horrible and violent and nasty as he was, he’s still my patient and I have just got to do the job. We try to switch off. We do care for people and that’s what we are here for, not be attacked while doing our job.”
Even after having his hand broken, John and Andrew continued to treat the patient for around 35 minutes. John added: “The adrenaline had kicked in, it wasn’t until we got to hospital that I thought ‘my hand’s hurting’. The consultant said it’s quite a difficult bone to break which just gives an indication of the force that was used.”
Father-of-one John, of Poplar Avenue, has now been signed off work for six weeks as he is unable to drive and will require specialist rehabilitation, while Andrew – who sustained a back injury in the incident on Lane End Road, Bacup – has been taken off frontline work and assigned to the control room
He said: “Obviously there is the physical side and the financial and mental side of it, but there is also the wider effect on the community. They have lost two paramedics over their busiest period. It’s not acceptable and it does make me very angry. That’s Christmas ruined for me.”
Lancashire Police are investigating the assaults, which occurred at around 8pm on Sunday, December 3. Ambulance service sector manager Ian Walmsley said the ‘vile and disgusting behaviour’ of the man was ‘absolutely abhorrent’ and said they would push for prosecution.
‘Weekly’ violence for emergency workers
Paramedic John Liddle said assaults on emergency staff are becoming ‘a weekly occurrence’.
He said: “We do experience this on a regular basis. It’s mainly verbal, with the occasional bit of aggression. NWAS have had 68 reported physical assaults so far this year. We are always on our guard but this attack just came out of the blue.
“The cost to NWAS is astronomical because they are going to have to try and replace us.
“We want to speak out because it’s just unacceptable and should not be happening.”
He added that attacks come from right across the population spectrum.
He said: “We experience aggression from older people, and often from people who aren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“There are a lot of triggers. Sometimes people become angry because they’ve been waiting for an ambulance.”
Last month the Observer revealed that police escorts are required for ambulance staff visiting 17 ‘blacklisted’ addresses in Hyndburn because of previous violent incidents.
John said aggression is not limited to blue light workers and his partner, emergency nurse Elaine Page, has also experienced violence.
He said: “She’s been attacked with chairs, there’s been a man with a knife. It’s shocking and it’s happened on several occasions.
“All of my colleagues, doctors, nurses, they all tell you that they have seen incidents of violence and aggression and it’s becoming a weekly occurrence.”