Friday 18 December 2009
Enjoy the office party, but don't attack paramedics
UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union, is today (Friday
18th) appealing to the public to behave themselves after their
office parties. The Friday before Christmas, the annual office
party day, is dubbed "black" Friday by paramedics and ambulance
workers, because they face an increase in drink-fuelled violence.
On this day, the number of 999 calls goes up along with violence,
threats and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast, the day
will be even more difficult for those emergency workers. The union
wants people to enjoy their office parties, but says they should
leave paramedics and ambulance crew to get on with their jobs
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: "The Friday
before Christmas is the day that paramedics dread. It is shameful
that ambulance crews, who are out 24/7 with the sole aim of saving
lives and caring for the sick and injured, become the target of
violence, intimidation and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast,
the day will be even more difficult for those emergency workers.
"I am appealing to the public today and every day to leave ambulance
workers to get on with their jobs in peace. If not, the next time
you dial 999, our life saving paramedic maybe out of action."
In Scotland the operation of the Emergency Workers Act has given
some support to hard-pressed ambulance crews - but David Forbes
- UNISONScotland's Regional Organiser for the Ambulance Service
says some people still need to change their attitude.
"Ambulance staff know that Scotland values them and the service
they provide, but there are still a small minority who when they
have too much to drink, seem to want to abuse and attack us, or
think that ambulances are some kind of taxi service. All these
people achieve is to damage the service for everyone else."