An Emergency Medical Technician has recalled how his life fell apart after he was forced to defend himself from a patient who tried to attack him.
East Midlands Ambulance Service fired 36-year-old Joe Hemming after he was forced to defend himself by restraining a patient who was about to punch him in the back of an emergency ambulance.
Joe has said that he now fears that other medics will be afraid to defend themselves in the future for fear of being fired for defending themselves.
After EMAS did not respond to employment tribunal proceedings, Joe won the case, which EMAS has now appealed.
Joe was an Emergency Medical Technician stationed at Grantham at the time of the incident in June 2021.
Joe explained: “We were called to a well-known violent patient who had several warning markers in our system. He appeared to be intoxicated and got very aggressive.
“He kicked off on the way to the hospital while I was driving, and I had to tell him firmly to shut up and sit down. That defused the situation until we actually arrived at hospital.
“When I was in the back of the ambulance, he raised his arm to punch me, and I had nowhere to move. I had to think quickly and react. I put his arm behind his back, and he calmed down a few seconds later.
“I reported the incident as normal and didn’t think any more about it. Then I heard that I was being suspended for attacking a patient.
“I thought I had used reasonable force.
“There was CCTV which showed what happened, and my ambulance partner and the hospital staff backed me up. The patient never even made a complaint.”
“When I lost my job, I had to go on Universal Credit. My landlord didn’t accept it, so I was forced out of my house with my three children close to Christmas,” he said.
“It really affected me mentally. I loved doing that job. In the space of 28 days, my life was turned upside down.
“What message does it send if ambulance staff can’t defend themselves? I’m not doing this job to be assaulted; I’m here to help patients.
“There had been a previous incident where I was nearly stabbed while on duty and had to defend myself – my manager backed me completely then.
“Because of what happened to me, EMAS staff at Grantham say they are very cautious. Many are scared to report similar incidents where they’ve had to push back in case there are ramifications.”
Since the incident, Joe has encountered the patient and says that there were no problems.
“He had no memory of what happened, and apologised to me when he wasn’t intoxicated,” he said.
“The next time he needed treatment, I showed him nothing but respect – that’s how ambulance staff are trained. Every day is a blank slate. My issue isn’t with him, it’s with the situation and how EMAS handled it.”
Tina Richardson, Deputy Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, said:
“We are aware that this case is ongoing and subject to additional external procedures through a formal tribunal process, which are yet to be completed.
“Therefore, it is not appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”
Joe now works with a private ambulance company and has said that, despite his experiences, he is still committed to helping patients.
According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, there were over 70,000 physical assaults on NHS staff in England alone in 2019-2020. This figure includes both verbal and physical abuse
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