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Ore. union representatives say EMTs, medics being attacked

AMR providers started transporting mental health patients in 2016, and some say their increased contact with people having such crises puts them at increased risk


Photo/AMR Multnomah and Clackamas Counties

By Leila Merrill

PORTLAND, Ore. — Union representatives for AMR EMS providers in Multnomah County are raising the alarm about recent assaults on EMTs and paramedics.

On July 15, an AMR ambulance with its lights and siren on was T-boned in what could have been a head-on collision with an SUV if the provider who was driving had not swerved, KOIN reported.

Three years ago, KOIN 6 reported that AMR was documenting an increase in assaults and had started training their providers in self-defense.

In response to the SUV incident this summer, Randy Lauer, vice president of operations for Global Medical Response, sent an email to Sam Adams in Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office.

Lauer wrote: “The attached video is of a mentally ill person in a vehicle targeting one of our ambulances. He heard the siren and then laid in wait for an ambush. He has been missing from a group home and told police he wanted to kill the paramedics. … I want to keep this on your radar because I fear a bad event is just around the corner with the frequency of violence against EMS.”

Portland police have arrested a suspect.

“Our EMTs and paramedics are under attack. And we need to put a stop to it,” said Leslie Sloy, the secretary-treasurer at Local 223. “It’s just gotten way out of hand.”

AMR providers started transporting mental health patients — those going voluntarily into treatment and patients involuntarily under a police hold — in 2016. EMS providers said that their increased contact with people having mental health crises is a factor in the increased violence they face.