Paramedics shaken after brick smashes ambulance windshield in St. John's

·3 min read
Name withheld by request
Name withheld by request

A brick thrown at an ambulance while it was en route to a call in St. John's Thursday night shattered its windshield, rattled the paramedics inside, and has the workers' union worried about increasing violence toward the first responders.

According to the union, the incident took place on Prince Phillip Drive near Wicklow Street, in the vicinity of the Health Sciences Centre, late on Thursday. The lights were flashing and siren was on in the ambulance as the brick hit the driver's side of the windshield and forced the crew to turn back from their call.

The ambulance is now out of service.

There was no patient inside at the time, and Newfoundland and Labrador Paramedic Association President Rodney Gaudet said while the paramedics were not injured physically, that doesn't mean they were unscathed by the incident.

"As far as emotionally, that's yet to be seen, really. This could scar them for a number of years, for quite a long time," Gaudet told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show Friday.

"Potentially every time they hop in an ambulance they might be wondering or looking extra carefully now, wondering if it's going to happen again."

CBC
CBC

Gaudet did not know if the attack was random or targeted. He said the ambulance being on call adds an extra layer of concern, as crews needed to dispatch a new ambulance in a situation where time is of the essence.

Violent incidents increasing: Union

Jerry Earle, the president of the union that represents paramedics in the province, called the incident "an outright senseless act of violence," and said it is the latest in escalating incidents of harassment against paramedics.

"Paramedics are being subjected to, and other first responders are being subjected to, abuse and harassment," Earle, the head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Private and Public Employees, said Friday.

"I don't fathom for a moment what would cause somebody to do that."

Earle said he has spoken with paramedics who have concerns over their safety in some instances and is potentially impacting their ability to work in the field.

"These women and men have a critical job to do," he said.

"Any type of interference jeopardizes the call response, put their lives at risk, and puts them in harm's way."

John Pike/CBC
John Pike/CBC

Gaudet echoed that sentiment, saying incidents between patients or bystanders and paramedics can often escalate quickly.

"It happens quite frequently. A lot of times on like a minor scale, in the sense of being swung at, spit at, being punched or kicked," Gaudet said.

"Sometimes it's patients that have no means to harm somebody, whether they have dementia or a head injury, they don't know what's going on. But then we also have a lot of times where people know exactly what they're doing at the time."

Earle called for an investigation into the incident, and hopes the the person involved is handled with accordingly.

In an email to CBC News, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said they had nothing to report on the incident Friday morning.

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