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Ambo speaks out after being punched in head by drunk

DANGEROUS JOB: Paramedic Bethany Martin is hoping she doesn’t experience any future cases of violence after being punched in the head by a patient last year.
DANGEROUS JOB: Paramedic Bethany Martin is hoping she doesn’t experience any future cases of violence after being punched in the head by a patient last year. Allan Reinikka

THE brutal weekend attack of a Gold Coast paramedic brought back memories for Rockhampton's Bethany Martin.

Bethany can still remember the severe headache she suffered after she was punched in the head by a patient while on duty last year.

It was a normal day in May for the young paramedic who went to assist another crew member on their arrival at the emergency department of the Rockhampton Hospital.

She was standing at the door waiting to be let in when she was assaulted by an intoxicated woman from another ambulance.

Bethany, 25, was punched in the side of the head and pushed into the wall.

"The lady had been spitting and disagreeing with the paramedics in the ambulance and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.

"I can remember seeing her fist come over me and hit me in the side of the head. I got pushed into the wall and suffered a bruised shoulder and had a headache for a few days afterwards.

"I was in shock when it happened because I didn't expect it at all and I fell to the ground. Although it wasn't a bad physical injury it definitely affected me because I was a victim of an unprovoked attack.

"I had some counselling provided through Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) which was really good to help me get my head around what had happened. I was a little bit more anxious in group situations a few weeks afterwards as I was very aware that someone could potentially punch me but I've just become a lot more cautious now and take in my surroundings on scene."

Bethany said she felt angered and upset when she heard about the brutal attack on a Gold Coast paramedic last weekend.

"The majority of patients are great and you go home feeling like you've made a difference but there's a select few who are difficult to treat because they become violent," she said.

"Violence against paramedics is increasing and I think with the increase in drug and alcohol-affected patients these days everyone is so unpredictable. Our training is mostly self defence but it's getting harder to judge whether someone's going to react to you in a negative way.

"We all have families and don't want to go home with broken bones or bruises so it's really disheartening but unfortunately it's become part of the job.

"It's not in any paramedic's role description to tolerate any abuse, physical or verbal, and that's why QAS will take action against those people."

The woman who punched Bethany was charged with assault and sentenced to six months good behaviour.

AMBO ASSAULTS:

In the 2014-15 financial year there were 247 incidents of occupational violence against QAS staff recorded, including 170 deliberate physical attacks and 56 verbal assaults

Topics:  alcohol ambulance officers editors picks paramedic rockhampton violence



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