Recent assault on paramedics in Taney County is prompting some changes in policy.
The ambulance district has posted signs inside the trucks, reminding people it’s a felony to attack emergency workers.
“TCAD paramedics respond to about 13,000 calls a year, or a little over 30 calls a day,” Lieutenant Johnathan Tudor said.
Tudor says those calls could come with surprises.
“You never know what you’re walking into,” Lt. Tudor said.
Lt. Tudor says sometimes that means those who are trying to help, get hurt.
“We’ve had several of our paramedics be punched,” Lt. Tudor said.
In fact, it happened to him, while in the back of a moving ambulance with a patient.
“[The patient] removed the restraints and advised me that he was going to jump out of the back of the ambulance. Obviously, at highway speed we can imagine that would not turn out good for anyone,” Lt. Tudor said.
Tudor took a blow to the face, but was able to hold down the patient until he got help.
“I had just enough to over power him to prevent a potentially tragic incident,” Lt. Tudor said.
The law protects those who are attacked while trying to do their job.
“We want people that offend against those folks to generally be punished more harshly,” Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell said.
Merrell says, under Missouri law, EMS crews are considered special victims, just like police, firefighters, and even ER staff.
“We want to try to protect those people because they’re out there trying to protect the community,” Merrell said.
However, Tudor says, even though the law protects them, they also have to protect themselves with proper training.
“Being aware of your surroundings, being aware of what’s going on, knowing where the exit is,” Lt. Tudor said.
They even have procedures and equipment to keep violent patients restrained with secure straps, or with medication.
“We also have protocols for chemical sedation, if we need to,” Lt. Tudor said.
He says, while giving medical care is the call of duty, the most important thing is coming home safely.
“The main job function of a paramedic is taking care of that patient,” Lt. Tudor said. “No one should go to work and be assaulted.”
Tudor says EMTs and paramedics never work alone. Their partners, as well as police and firefighters on scene, can help each other out if a situation turns bad.