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From warnings to weapons, paramedics have a say on avoiding assaults

From warnings to weapons, paramedics have a say on avoiding assaults

Published:02 July 2018

CQUniversity’s Adjunct Professor Brian Maguire has continued his research into violence against paramedics.

Assaulted paramedics from 13 countries have had their say on what works best to prevent violence against them.

In the first ever international study of its type, suggestions ranged from better situational awareness through to better patient restraints, body armour and even weapons.

The fresh article on ‘Preventing EMS workplace violence’ has been published in the International Journal of the Care of the Injured (known as Injury).

Lead author Adjunct Professor Brian Maguire, of CQUniversity Australia, says 1778 Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel responded to the survey, including 633 who reported being assaulted in the previous 12 months.

Professor Maguire says the main suggestions given in the survey from assaulted medics highlighted a need for better training, better options for restraint (including handcuffs or calmative injections), improved communication and advanced warning, improved public education, better situational awareness, and improved inter-agency cooperation.

“Our study found that some EMS personnel see a role for weapons in their self-defence,” he says.

“However, carrying firearms and other self-protection weapons introduces a host of issues in regards to liability.

“Less contentious options included de-escalation training, self-defence training, better pat-downs by police prior to transport, and increased penalties for perpetrators of assaults.”

Professor Maguire says assaulted medics have called for better collaboration with local police, dispatchers and other agencies to obtain warnings about problem locations, known violent offenders or potential issues with hand-overs.

He has called for ambulance agencies across the globe to work with researchers to develop, implement and test interventions to reduce risk of violence against their personnel, in tandem with systematic reporting of both assaults and near-miss incidents and, importantly, publishing the results of trial interventions.

Professor Maguire’s co-authors include CQUni colleagues Dr Barbara O’Neill and Associate Professor Matthew Browne, along with Dr Michael Dealy from New York University and Professor Peter O’Meara from La Trobe University.