Town tops league of 999 shame

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HARTLEPOOL has been ranked top in a Teesside league of shame in which paramedics are warned when visiting danger homes.

There are 22 homes in the town which have been flagged as potentially dangerous due to past attacks on ambulance staff.

There are also six addresses in Hartlepool which have been branded no-go areas for paramedics unless they have a police escort, following violence against them.

The list of 22 properties relates to incidents where ambulance staff have been targeted with non-physical abuse while tending to victims.

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), which runs ambulance services in Hartlepool, said: “There is absolutely no justification for attacking people who are trying to help.

“Flagging an address allows us to warn a crew about what they may encounter.

“In some instances, the police may be asked to attend with us.

“It very much depends on the circumstances of the individual call.”

The spokeswoman added that procedures are in place for ambulance staff to report assaults to police.

Properties which have been placed on the register are informed.

But NEAS policy says notifying the individual is not appropriate when it “may provoke a violent reaction” or adversely affect health.

The degree of violence, the injuries sustained and the level of risk the individual imposes are considered when ambulance chiefs ‘flag’ an address.

It does not only apply when the attacker is a patient, it can be a friend, guardian or associate.

Attacks from dangerous pets and animals can also result in the address being logged.

Properties can generally be flagged for six months, but this depends on the individual nature of the case and is periodically reviewed.

In total, there are 53 homes in Teesside listed as a “cautionary” risk, with Hartlepool ranking above Middlesbrough, which has 16 compared to the town’s 22.

Middlesbrough also has four homes where paramedic teams need a police escort, compared to six in Hartlepool.

Trevor Johnston, lead officer for health at public sector union Unison, said: “It’s quite shocking that a service that is going to help and treat people is being attacked by anyone.”

He called for a “zero tolerance” approach to people responsible for attacks on paramedics.

Mr Johnston added: “This has an effect on everybody in Hartlepool. It could mean an out-of-service ambulance, putting everybody else at risk.

“It also costs from the public purse for a replacement unit and all the money it takes to get the police there.”