ASSAULTS on emergency workers in Wales are on the rise, new data has revealed.

More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average 10 per cent increase on the year before.

Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse.

Over a third were committed by people under the influence of alcohol.

With pubs to re-open fully in Wales from Monday, emergency workers are asking the public to treat them with respect, and have made the following plea – 'work with us, not against us'.

There were 629 assaults on Welsh Ambulance Service staff over the 20-month period, from paramedics to control room staff.

Among them was paramedic Darren Lloyd, who was assaulted by a patient in Bangor in April 2019 - a result of which the man was jailed for 16 weeks.

Darren said: “We’d been called to a man who was reported to have taken an overdose, so we administered an antidote to try and revive him.

“When he came to, he punched me twice and said: ‘You've f***ed up my last hit.’ I was caught unawares, I wasn’t ready for it.

“Patients put their trust in you and we put our trust in patients, so when something like this happens, it catches you off guard.

“It puts you on edge and it changes you. It makes you hyper-aware at other jobs now, and you question everything a lot more.

“You question why it happened and what you did wrong.”

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.

In a separate incident in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, in May 2019, emergency medical technician ‘Ann’ was also assaulted by a patient, who was later jailed for six months.

The mother-of-three said: “I was pinned to the corner of the inside of the ambulance by a patient who was drunk.

“I didn’t think it had affected me at the time, but a couple of weeks later, when another patient became irate, I took myself off to the ambulance and burst into tears.

“It’s two years on now, but what happened has stayed with me. The first thing I do when I go into a patient’s house now is look for the exits.”

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs.

“Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.

“A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally."

Simon Smith, chief fire officer at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We too are adding our voice to this appeal for the public to work with us, not against us.

“The vast majority of people recognise the importance of supporting the fire and rescue service while they respond to a range of emergencies that put people, communities, livelihoods and the environment at risk.

“Sadly, however, there are a few people who think nothing of subjecting our staff to verbal abuse or of attacking crews while they work.

“Nobody should expect to come under any sort of attack whilst potentially saving the lives of others in an emergency."

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.

As the first round of Covid-19 restrictions eased in Wales, July 2020 (256 assaults) and August 2020 (253 assaults) saw the highest volume of emergency worker assaults, increasing 20 per cent above the monthly average of 212.

There were just 21 known incidents over the reporting period where an emergency worker was deliberately coughed at by a person who claimed to have Covid-19, but the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.

Tony Dicken, district crown prosecutor for CPS Cymru Wales, said: “Any assault or abuse of an emergency worker is viewed extremely seriously by the CPS.

“The fact that the victim has been providing a service to the public is highlighted as an aggravating feature of the offence when courts pass sentence, which can increase the penalty given.

“Emergency workers are there to help the public and should be able to do so safely and without fear.

“The CPS is committed to using the full weight of the law to protect them.”

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.

Assaults on emergency workers have increased in Wales.