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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 15:03 GMT
Stab vests for paramedics
Items used to attack ambulancemen
A hoard of weapons used in attacks on ambulance crews
Ambulance workers' leaders are stepping up calls for paramedics to be issued with stab vests.

Officials at the annual conference of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP) in the Midlands will announce they are taking their campaign directly to the Department of Health.

Leaders said crews were angry that ambulance trusts have not introduced the vests and they have been forced to go directly to government.

One ambulance trust in the Midlands said it is waiting for national guidance on the issue.

Increased attacks

The call comes amid growing concern from ambulance crews about their safety.

A month ago ambulance staff from seven Midland trusts came together to call for urgent action to stop the rise in violent attacks on crews.

The meeting was arranged in response to the attack on Derbyshire paramedic Nick Horobin who lost an eye when a brick was thrown through the windscreen of his ambulance.

Jonathan Fox, spokesman for the APAP, said that the number of attacks on ambulance staff doubled in the last 12 months and in half of those cases staff needed hospital treatment for injuries that included stab wounds.

Nick Horobin
Nick Horobin has been discharged from hospital
"Ambulance crews are very concerned about their safety," said Mr Fox.

"They are seen as a target and whether that's a target to throw a brick at or for abuse, crews must be supported and get better protection workers are clearly lacking that at the moment.

"Vests would give crews a lot of peace of mind.

"They would feel that when they are going into a situation, where they cannot summon police help quickly, they are going to have a lot more protection and they will be able to get out of the situation a lot more quickly to get help."

'Outdated arguments'

"Staff feel very angry and let down by trusts who are not giving them the protection that is essential to do the job safely.

"Trusts keep coming out with outdated arguments against the vests, that they militarise the service and are cumbersome."

He said newly-designed vests, which can be tailored to an individual's measurements, overcomes these difficulties.

Mr Fox will tell the conference, at the Quality Hotel in Walsall on Friday, that the association will be holding meetings with Department of Health officials to get government to take up the issue.

Guidance needed

Bob Lee, spokesman for the Staffordshire Ambulance Trust, said: "This is a decision that should not be made by one trust but should be made on a national basis.

"We are awaiting national guidance."

Nick Horobin returned home on Thursday night after being discharged from a rehabilitation centre at the Derby City General hospital.

It was his first time at home after nearly six weeks in hospital.

Click here to go to BBC Derby Online
See also:

01 Oct 01 | England
Paramedics unite to stop violence
28 Sep 01 | England
Trucker shocked by roadside attack
27 Sep 01 | England
Paramedic loses eye in crash
25 Sep 01 | England
Ambulance attack was one of series
24 Sep 01 | England
Ambulance driver has surgery
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