A PROJECT which has seen paramedics and special constables teaming up to deal with drunken revellers on the streets of South Yorkshire on Friday and Saturday nights has been deemed a success.
Two special constables and a trained paramedic have been based together in a paramedic car in the centres of Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham each weekend since December.
Initial figures show that the project has approximately halved the number of injured partygoers being taken to A&E, therefore freeing up overstretched hospital wards.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “With the specials also in attendance, should the injured person become aggressive or violent, they have the same powers as a police officer and the paramedic can still treat the person without having to wait for officers to attend.
“This in turn allows police officers to deal with other public order offences in the town centre.”
Statistics were released yesterday for the Doncaster branch of the project, which revealed that in December the team dealt with 80 incidents, leading to 73 people who would ordinarily have had to go to hospital being treated at the scene.
In January, 41 incidents were attended in Doncaster, during which 38 people were treated for their injuries.
Chief inspector Neil Thomas, who is heading the operation in Doncaster, praised the initiative.
He said: “We want to cut down on the number of ambulances that need to be called in the town centres.
“By having a paramedic in the middle of town, it means that when a call goes to the ambulance service it can go straight to that ambulance.
“The paramedic can treat people there and then, which reduces the demand for A&E.
“The reason special constables are there as well is because very often, when people are injured or assaulted in the town centre, a police officer will need to stay with them until the emergency servies arrive.
“By putting the two specials there, it means that regular officers can be released straight away and the paramedic or specials can take over in caring for that person.”
He added: “This has been a success, without a shadow of a doubt.
“In effect, we’ve cut the number of hospital admissions and the number of people being carried by ambulance by 50 per cent.
“We’ve also reduced the attendance time – when people call 999 we’re almost immediately there.”
The scheme is also involving volunteers from Street Pastors, an initiative run by local churches throughout the UK.
Volunteers can stay with injured people if they are alone, while they wait for transport to get home.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “Street Pastors patrol the town centre streets on Saturday nights from 10pm to 4am, seeking to help and support people on their night out should they have had too much to drink or if they have become separated from their friends and are in a vulnerable position.”
Throughout December, volunteers with Street Pastors patrolled for 95 hours in Doncaster. During that time they helped a total of 108 people - handing out bottles of water, foil blankets and 70 pairs of flip-flops to “prevent any injuries to people found wandering the streets without shoes on.”
Rod Morrison, chairman and local co-ordinator of Doncaster Street Pastors said: “We are all truly dedicated to ensure we can make a difference by caring, listening and helping people in Doncaster on a night out should they come into any difficulties.”
Special constables have also been carrying out work with British Transport Police in Doncaster, to try and crack down on crime onboard public transport.
Wearing plain clothes, they patrolled buses in areas including Rossington to catch those behaving anti-socially.