Last month, as an AMR ambulance was responding to a call, a man in a white SUV intentionally smashed his car into the side of the ambulance.
In another recent case, AMR employees shared photos of broken glass in their ambulance after a man bashed the passenger side window in with a bat, nearly hitting a pregnant paramedic inside.
Leslie Sloy, the secretary-treasurer at Local 223 told KOIN 6 News that “Our EMTs and paramedics are under attack. And we need to put a stop to it. It’s just gotten way out of hand.”
“The public needs to be aware that this is going on because these are our everyday heroes,” Sloy said. “They’re out there trying to save lives and this is interfering with their work and what they love to do.”
Three years ago, KOIN 6 News first exposed how AMR was documenting an increase of assaults to emergency responders in the last few years. That led AMR to start training their paramedics in self-defense.
“We didn’t get into this profession for people to take out their aggression on us. We got in this industry to help people in crisis,” EMS training officer Tim Case said at that time. “To go from the helpers to then being the ones needing the help, it’s disheartening for sure.”
At the time, paramedics were being attacked with pipes, stabbed with knives and pepper sprayed.
“Those are the most obvious, glaring cases,” Case said,” that really shine a light on why there’s a need for this.”
Now in 2022 the attacks are escalating.
One reason cited by paramedics is the increase in mental health transports — both those going voluntarily into treatment and involuntarily under a police hold.
Other secure transport vehicles typically have a barrier between the person being transported and the driver, like in a police car. KOIN reports that ambulances don’t have those security components since they are not primarily used for transporting people in custody.
“So,” Sloy said, “the AMR paramedics and EMTs are on their own to deal with the violence.”