Canadian paramedics ask for body armor after 3 separate weekend assaults
The union representing Superior North EMS personnel says paramedics need more protection, as increased drug and alcohol use have heightened the danger for responders
By EMS1 Staff
CANADA — Three back-to-back assaults on paramedics in a Canadian city over the weekend have prompted a request for more protection.
Kyle Stamler, vice-chair of the union representing Superior North EMS paramedics, has asked that responders be equipped with ballistic armor, noting that social factors have made responding to emergency calls more dangerous, according to TBNewsWatch.com.
“There’s a lot of increasing drug and alcohol use in the city,” Stamler said. “The city is a little less innocent and a little more violent than it used to be. Sadly, the calls we end up going to involve those types of situations.”
Police in the city of Thunder Bay responded to three separate incidents over the weekend, according to a police news release.
The first occurred shortly before 11 p.m. on Friday, when paramedics from Superior North EMS responded to treat an intoxicated youth who began acting aggressively, police said. The youth reportedly assaulted a paramedic, was aggressive with police officers and was arrested after a brief struggle.
In the second incident, which occurred shortly after midnight on Saturday, paramedics were called to assist an intoxicated woman who was behaving erratically, the police service reports. The woman was “combative” with the EMS responders before fleeing the area and was later located and transported to a regional health center.
The third assault occurred when a woman refusing to leave a hotel lobby attacked a paramedic at the scene before officers arrived, police said. The woman, who appeared to have been injured in a previous incident, was later transported to the local health center.
Earlier this year, Superior North EMS paramedics received self-defense and situational awareness training to prepare them for potentially violent scenarios, CBC News reported, a first for the agency. Rob Moquin, another union representative, said paramedics had been asking for the training for nearly 10 years, and had also asked for “stab-proof vests.”
A 2018 safety report revealed 11 incidents of paramedics being injured in Thunder Bay, and that emergency services was one of the city departments facing the most significant rise in incidents and injuries.
The city and Superior North EMS have installed signs in ambulances warning that assaults on paramedics can result in criminal charges, TBNewsWatch.com reported, but union representatives hope body armor will be provided and, in addition to the self-defense training, help prepare providers for the rising danger.
“The most common assaults are punches, kicks, spitting – things like that. But we do know that a number of people in the community are carrying more weapons, edge weapons, even handguns, Stamler said.