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Panic buttons installed in 500+ London ambulances due to EMS assaults

The ambulance service is spending more than $3M on the new safety measures


Safety devices, including panic buttons, are being installed on London ambulances in response to assaults on EMS providers.

File photo/Matt Dunham/Associated Press

By Leila Merrill

LONDON — The London Ambulance Service has spent more than $3 million in U.S. dollars on panic buttons, monitors and other safety devices for ambulances after more than 260 first responders reported being physically assaulted on duty in the first half of 2022.

So far, 510 ambulances and 55 fast response cars have been fitted with the new equipment, according to the National Health Service.

The panic buttons, when activated, will trigger sound and video recordings that can be used in prosecutions. The vehicles also no have electronic tracking designed to help police officers arrive quickly.

In addition to the physical assaults, there were reports of 429 other assaults such as verbal abuse, threats of violence or anti-social behavior.

“Our ambulance crews and call handlers are dedicated to saving lives and helping Londoners in their time of need. They should never have to experience violence or aggression from people, but sadly – due to the behaviors of a small minority of patients and members of the public – it does happen,” said Chief Paramedic Dr. John Martin. “These new measures will help keep our teams safer and reinforce to the public that abuse will not be tolerated.”

Prior to the new safety effort, body cameras were distributed to EMS providers in the UK, and two violence reduction officers were recruited. Their role is to support EMS providers who have been assaulted and to work closely with police officers when assault victims take their cases to court.