Attacked paramedic: ‘I’ve lost track of the amount of times it has happened’

Paramedic Richard Bentley, pictured the Ambulance Station Saxton Lane, Leeds ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Paramedic Richard Bentley, pictured the Ambulance Station Saxton Lane, Leeds ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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PARAMEDIC Richard Bentley has been repeatedly bitten, headbutted, punched in the face, spat at, and was even charged at by a man wielding a 12-inch carving knife - all while responding to people in need.

The 34-year-old, who has worked for Yorkshire Ambulance Service since 2005, said the amount of violent incidents he had personally experience has “increased massively” in recent years.

Mr Bentley, 34, from Leeds, said: “I’ve lost track of the amount of times it has happened. It seems to be socially acceptable.”

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The effects of an assault go beyond physical bruises or even mental challenges. After being bitten, Mr Bentley has become unwell after taking antiviral medication issued as a precaution.

“It means that on shifts I should have been working there has been one car less to respond,” he said. “It makes me consider my job and whether it’s something I want to be doing because of the increased risk.

“I go to work to help people not to be attacked.”

In 2016 and 2017, Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff reported 1,629 incidents of physical and verbal abuse.

Mr Bentley, who is Unison’s YAS representative for West Yorkshire, said: “We have had to get used to this on a daily basis. You get back to the station and there’s usually a conversation about who it has been that week.”

He believes that the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill could have gone further by increasing sentences by a larger amount, and thinks that when it is passed, the first prosecutions should be afforded maximum publicity to “name and shame” perpetrators.

He added: “We need to make sure people know that assaulting an emergency worker is not acceptable - just as the campaign around drink driving made that socially unacceptable.”

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