Emergency team plans extra staff protection after recent attacks

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The Emergency Medical Service (NMPD) wants to introduce additional safety measures for its employees, including body cameras following an occurrence recently when a service driver was stabbed in the chest several times, Latvian Television reported on November 2.

Tonijs Galanders is one of the NMPD employees who go on calls every day. He regularly faces situations where his work is disrupted.

“In most cases, it is verbal aggression from patients, most of them from relatives, bystanders. Well, there have also been individual cases with some sort of physical activity, of course,” Galanders said.

Swearing, shoving and disrupting work by patients is not even listed by NMPD. Around 100 times a year attacks on the medics are more serious. In one of them even the special tasks unit had to be involved in rescuing the medics themselves.

"We remember very well an attack in a remote rural town where the man had used substances. He attacked the brigade with forks, hay forks, and it was a very dangerous situation. In recent weeks there was a case that our driver was stabbed multiple times in the chest. It also happened in a very remote place. Police could only come in within 20 minutes. All this time, the brigade was in the dark, at night. There were no houses or populated areas around and it could end up perhaps even more tragic," said Liene Cipule, head of the NMPD.

The SOS button for rapid communication with the Operational Control Centre is currently available to team members, and since 2011 cars have been equipped with video cameras. But the work is mostly outside the car. Therefore, proposals are currently being developed in the service to protect medics when they go alone in an unsafe environment.

“Quite often, they are really alone with the particular situation and it is tough to provide support. If we had these cameras, we could provide assisting care in these dangerous places where the brigade is heading, we could also monitor the situation in order to respond in time, even if the brigade, for example, cannot pass the message that they need help,” explained Cipule.


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