Violence against paramedics on the rise, union says
Chicago responders are seeing a rise in attacks
CHICAGO — Local paramedics say they are increasingly becoming the target of assaults by people they are called to help. "Physical harm is what we contend with on every shift," said Margaret Heckmann, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department.
Heckmann and fellow paramedic Michele Martinez recall an instance when they were called to the River North neighborhood. A suburban man named Jonathon Soto appeared to be lying on his back, intoxicated. Martinez and Heckman helped him into the ambulance.
"As soon as I went to the front of the ambulance to get the computer I heard sounds in back. I said Margaret, are you ok? She said no, he is biting me," Martinez said. She said Soto continued to fight and bite both paramedics- and then began to choke her. The assault became so violent that Martinez called for a 10-1, which is the signal used for a first responder who is about to be killed.