HUNTER paramedics tending to car crash victims and unconscious late-night revellers are coming under violent attacks from drunk, drug-affected and aggressive patients and bystanders.
A spate of attacks in the past month has caused injuries to paramedics.
NSW Ambulance Service Hunter zone manager Superintendent Terry Watson is concerned.
‘‘Just one incident of assault is unacceptable for the community, to attack a paramedic in carrying out their duties,’’ he said.
In recent weeks paramedics were in the firing line at night in Newcastle while tending to an unconscious person on Hunter Street.
Bystanders became aggressive and injured two paramedics, a female who was punched in the face and chest, and a male who was pushed to the ground.
In Raymond Terrace after a recent car accident, a man became aggressive and kicked attending paramedics.
Superintendent Watson said incidents were not common, but always unacceptable.
He said under-reporting was another matter, with paramedics potentially tolerating incidents they viewed as minor, such as verbal abuse.
Any reports were taken seriously and investigated, Superintendent Watson said.
State laws are in place making it an offence to hinder or assault paramedics.
Offenders face jail sentences of up to five years.
Superintendent Watson said paramedics often worked with police, but did not view their job as a policing role.
They were out at the coalface to help people.
‘‘Because we’re involved in a domestic situation or some situation with potential violence, we shouldn’t be seen as the soft target to lash out at,’’ he said.
‘‘Sometimes a domestic situation or even alcohol or drug incidents ... clientele that we see attack without thinking.’’
Superintendent Watson said the perpetrators represented a certain, very small element of the community.
However, individuals had a responsibility not to conduct themselves in an antisocial manner and not to simply blame alcohol or drugs, he said.