AUSTIN, Texas - A survey conducted by Austin-Travis County EMS revealed that medics are being assaulted frequently. More than 63 percent of personnel working in the field reported being physically and verbally assaulted more than once in the last two years.
More than 86 percent of communication staff reported being verbally assaulted in that same time period.
“That survey gave us some surprising results that there are actually more assaults occurring on medics, not just within our department but across the industry,” said Brian Bregenzer, division chief at ATCEMS.
Bregenzer said often times the attacks are from people who may be under the influence.
“Most of them were happening in the back of the ambulance but we also are finding our communications medics are being verbally assaulted on the phone during 911 calls,” said Bregenzer.
To fight this alarming statistic, EMS and APD have rolled out specific call codes to help get police to them quickly. This was announced at Monday's public safety commission meeting.
“Now they will know that there is an assault happening on an EMS person or any first responder specifically versus something that may just be a routine ‘we need you fast’ type situation,” said Bregenzer.
In addition, medics are now receiving training on avoiding these attacks.
“The two medics we sent up to Dallas to learn specialized techniques and de-escalation will also be providing continued education training this month...so all our medics will get de-escalation training,” said Selena Xia, president of the Austin EMS Association.
Having these categorized codes lets police know just how serious a situation might really be versus a routine assistance call, sometimes making the difference between life and death.