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'We have to get tough on the thugs who attack paramedics'.

Byline: Warren Manger HEALTH REPORTER

AMBULANCE chiefs in the West Midlands have called on the courts to hand down tougher sentences for thugs who attack paramedics as they try to work.

It comes after Wolverhampton Wanderers footballer Adam Hammill was spared jail after assaulting two ambulance crew.

Attacks on ambulance staff have become a sickeningly common problem.

In the last six months West Midlands Ambulance Service has recorded 95 physical assaults against frontline workers. Another 186 staff were verbally assaulted.

Steve Elliker, head of security at the ambulance service, said: "Ambulance crews go to work each day to help people in their hour of need; they should not have to face any sort of verbal or physical abuse.

"We would urge the courts to hand down the toughest possible sentences to people who attack our staff. We would like to see both custodial and financial penalties handed down.

"If our staff were convicted of such an assault, there is every likelihood that they would lose their job."

Hammill, who is currently on loan to Huddersfield Town, was arrested outside a bar in Liverpool on October 7. The 24 year-old pleaded guilty to assaulting two female paramedics. Yet the star escaped with a 12 week suspended sentence when he appeared at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Mr Elliker said he could not comment on an individual case, but he thought the court should clamp down on any assault on ambulance staff.

He said: "There should be no difference between a high profile individual or any other member of the public. "But clearly people will look at individuals such as Mr Hammill and see him as an ambassador for the clubs he plays for.

"He has a responsibility to act in a manner that means people can look up to him. What are young fans supposed to think?" Mr Elliker said there was also a clear cost to assaults against ambulance staff, as victims may need time off to recover from physical or psychological injuries.

That meant less workers were available to help people having heart attacks and strokes, which could mean the difference between life and death, he said.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 23, 2012
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