A paramedic who was spat at by a patient at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic has re-lived the “traumatic” ordeal.
Lisa O’Sullivan, who is based in Blackweir, Cardiff, was also verbally abused by the man she was attempting to treat in the city’s Callaghan Square last August.
Fortunately, South Wales Police officers were already at the scene and arrested the man. He has since been sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.
Lisa, 34, recalled: “I’d been called to reports of a man having a seizure on Callaghan Square – it was a high-priority ‘red’ call so I made my way there on lights and sirens.
“As I tried to assess him, he swore and called me a ‘f*****g c**t’. I tried to diffuse the situation by telling him my name and explaining what I was trying to do, but then he spat at me which caught my face and my arm.
“Normally, I wouldn’t be fazed by something like this but I was stunned by it. We were in the middle of the pandemic, and even though I was wearing PPE I had no idea whether he had Covid-19, let alone what other blood-borne diseases he may be carrying.
“It was traumatic. I felt hurt. I was there to help him and that’s how he treated me.”
At Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on May 27, Daryl Robins pleaded guilty to assaulting Lisa contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Section 1 of the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, and was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.
Lisa, originally from Cork, Ireland, and who joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2016, said: “I felt relief when I heard about his sentencing to be honest.
“I’m just glad that justice has been served, and that the courts took this seriously. I felt nervous for a while after the incident, especially when out as a solo responder.
“The attack was short-lived – it was over in literally minutes, but the impact stays with you.”
Last month the Welsh Ambulance Service launched its ‘With Us, Not Against Us’ campaign in response to a rise in assaults on emergency workers in Wales.
Wales Matters delivers the best of WalesOnline’s coverage of politics, health, education, current affairs and local democracy straight to your inbox.
Now more than ever this sort of journalism matters and we want you to be able to access it all in one place with one click. It’s completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and follow the simple instructions.
More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period between April 2019 and November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%. Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse.
Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs. Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.
“A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally. The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us.”