A series of hard-hitting videos from emergency services teams across the North East have been issued today ahead of the bank holiday weekend, as the pandemic restrictions continue to be lifted.
The videos feature colleagues from the ambulance, police, fire and health services. Staff from across the professions give their own personal accounts of how ‘it happened to me’ – sharing shocking stories of the violence and abuse they have experienced whilst working to support the communities they serve.
From police officers threatened with dangerous weapons, to the racial abuse of health care workers to fire services attacked with bricks and rocks just before bonfire night, and shockingly the story of two ambulance workers who took early retirement following attacks whilst on duty.
The two videos highlights the plight of the emergency services and asks the public to #DoYourBit and help keep them safe as lockdown restrictions start to ease.
Attacks on emergency service workers are shown to be increasing year on year. In October last year the North East Ambulance Service reported a 21 per cent increase in physical assaults on its crews during lockdown recording an astounding 76 attacks, whilst Northumbria Police recorded a staggering 365 per cent increase in assaults on its constables.
Julie Gillon, Chief Executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust “the pandemic really shone a light on the hard work and dedication of our emergency services and key workers across the country. These individuals have had a long 15 months, and it is not over yet. On behalf of all of those colleagues, I would implore the public to follow the guidance issued, continue to support all of our key workers and ultimately to be kind.”
Chief Constable Winton Keenen, of Northumbria Police, said: “Officers, staff and volunteers across the entirety of Northumbria Police come to work, every day, with the express desire to keep people safe and protect the North East communities we are so very proud to be such a big part of – often putting themselves in harm’s way as they do so.
“It is completely unacceptable that they and their wider emergency service colleagues should be subjected to violence or any other form of abuse.
“I want to be absolutely clear, we will not tolerate verbal or physical assaults and abuse towards the very people so many of us rely on to come to our assistance at times of need.
“We will always seek to prosecute matters, so many of which are entirely cowardly acts, and will pursue criminal convictions and imprisonment wherever possible.
“It is hugely reassuring to know the overwhelming majority of people in our wonderful region are supportive of Northumbria Police and our emergency service colleagues and to know they join together in condemnation of attacks upon them.”
Chris Lowther, Chief Fire Officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “As emergency service workers, we are here to respond when we are needed. It is absolutely unacceptable that firefighters and any emergency service worker, who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, are being attacked in the line of duty.
“I don’t want to go to a firefighter’s home and have to tell their family they have been injured in an attack.
“Attacks on firefighters and all emergency service workers has to stop, it’s completely unacceptable and puts lives at risk.”