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Violence in EMS: When patients go wild

Over the years I’ve been spat on, punched, bit and had a gun pointed near my face


I was satisfied to see that a felony charge was lodged against a young man who punched a Chicago medic in the face as she was trying to treat him for injuries he suffered when he was intoxicated.

It’s no fun to be assaulted while at work. It just makes a challenging job that much harder to perform. Over the years I’ve been spat on, punched, bit and had a gun pointed near my face. I know that many of you have experienced similar circumstances. I’ve been lucky to not be seriously injured; others haven’t been as fortunate.

It feels like our society has turned a corner. It used to be that EMS providers were the “knights in shining armor” who even the bad guys wouldn’t interfere with, since it could be them one day who would need our help. Violence and acting out seems to be much more acceptable behavior now, even celebrated — witness the rise in “knockout game” attacks.

What is wrong with people?

On the eve of a holiday where we are supposed to give thanks for things we enjoy, it’s sad that the joy of working in EMS is tempered by the bad behavior of individuals who, in a moment, can change the life of a stranger who was there simply to help them.

If you are working this holiday weekend, please be careful out there. And to you and others I call friends and colleagues, happy Thanksgiving, and may it be filled with good food, good company and good thoughts!

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