THE EDITOR: We note with interest a provision of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) Bill, 2019, to be laid in the House of Representatives today, such that it is proposed that it be a specific crime to attack a member of the Prisons, Police, and Fire Services in the pursuit of his/her duties. We call upon legislators to add often forgotten emergency medical workers to the protected workers.
Sadly, it is not uncommon for emergency medical technicians and paramedics to face threats of physical violence and attack while seeking to render care to the sick and injured. Cases that give no indication of violence at the point of requesting ambulance service frequently pose threats to emergency medical responders.
Cases that may be initially calm upon arrival of ambulance personnel can rapidly deteriorate; add alcohol, chemical, psychological, and emotional impairment and these cases can quickly become a combustible cocktail of physical violence directed at the very people there solely to render medical care.
It should come as no surprise that when one person intends to harm another the emergency medical workers present to provide medical intervention in response to such intended harm themselves become the target of offenders.
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics who practise in our society are trained in and quickly develop a sixth sense to preserve their personal safety. Yet all the training and preparation imaginable cannot always anticipate from where threats of violence may manifest.
For this reason, in pursuit of their service to the sick and injured of this country, emergency medical workers deserve the same protection in law as do our counterparts and colleagues in the protective services.
In honour of those who serve as medical first responders, we plead for equal protection. If it is an offence to harm a prisons, police and/or fire officer in the performance of his/her duties, it ought to be the same offence to harm an emergency medical worker. We commend the bill be so amended.
CEO, Global Medical
Response of TT, Ltd