AMBULANCE staff in Cork have had knives and machetes pulled on them while at work, it has been revealed.
A Cork paramedic told The Echo that he had a Stanley knife pulled on him while he was attending a call-out in the past year.
On another call-out, the ambulance crew was confronted by a man brandishing a large machete at the top of the stairs of a house they attended.
The fear of attack is almost an ever-present for ambulance staff in the region and across Ireland, paramedics have said.
The revelations come after it was recently revealed that 57 ambulance staff have been physically assaulted across the country since 2017.
Twelve staff members have been forced off duty as a result of physical attacks.
More than 20 of these attacks took place in this region.
However, chairperson of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra), Sinead McGrath, said these figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as many assaults go unreported.
Speaking to The Echo, Ms McGrath said: “We don’t know what’s behind the front door of a house that we’ve been called out to.
“There could be someone with a knife waiting to take their aggression out on me.
“We have no way of assessing those risks until we get behind the door and then it closes behind us.”
Ms McGrath explained that if an ambulance crew member is assaulted in such a situation, it may affect their ability to react in a similar situation in the future.
“The psychological trauma is nearly worse at times than the physical trauma,” she admitted.
“That’s why we need to see prosecutions and a compensation scheme to support staff.”
Ms McGrath revealed that Nasra conducted an internal survey in 2016 which revealed that there had been around 50 assaults on staff, but that none resulted in prosecutions.
“I think therein lies the problem,” said Ms McGrath. “We appreciate that our job will expose us to situations where people are agitated because of their illness but we are being exposed, due to drugs and alcohol, to more aggressive behaviour.
“The HSE is not sending out a clear enough message to people that this will not be tolerated,” she added.
“There are signs in ambulances and emergency departments across the country that say abusive and aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated, but I’m not aware of any prosecutions or even people being brought to court.”
The HSE has condemned assaults on medical staff.
A recent Ipsos MRBI poll commissioned by the HSE found that almost half of ambulance staff were dissatisfied with their job.