Ambulance service ‘red flags’ 129 Falkirk district homes as potentially dangerous

Ambulance crews must call for police help when attending 'red flag' homes
Ambulance crews must call for police help when attending 'red flag' homes

More than 100 homes in Falkirk district are deemed too dangerous for paramedics to attend without being accompanied by police.

New figures have revealed ambulance crews are advised to request back-up from officers whenever they are called out to one of 129 ‘red-flagged’ addresses across the region where responders have previously either been attacked or threatened.

The system was devised by the Scottish Ambulance Service to safeguard paramedics from violence while on duty.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through a Freedom of Information request show the service has earmarked 2557 properties across the country as being worthy of a red flag, meaning staff must contact police before responding to a 999 call at these addresses.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government revealed 6509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance service personnel across the country in 2016/17 — equivalent to more than 17 per day.

Scottish Conservative politician Alison Harris, Central Scotland MSP, has called for those guilty of such attacks to be punished appropriately.

She said: “Paramedics have a tough enough job without being threatened or attacked by the very people they’re trying to help. It’s inexcusable behaviour which should be dealt with severely by the courts.

“No-one should face threats of violence at work, least of all those responding to 999 calls. I hope we can see these figures reduce in Falkirk, which would allow ambulance workers to get on with the job they’re trained 
to do.”

In Glasgow, 820 homes have been red-flagged, while 469 in Edinburgh and the Lothians were also singled out.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman stated the safety system is implemented with those most in need of medical attention firmly in mind.

The spokesman said: “Getting to the sickest patients will always be our priority, regardless of whether the police are in attendance.

“Our staff are trained in assessing risk and managing aggression so that they can make a sensible decision based on the circumstances. Our staff should not fear for their safety when working, which is why we have introduced a range of measures to help protect them.

“Individual addresses where staff have previously faced violence or threatening behaviour are automatically flagged to our crews, who can then request additional support, only if required. We keep these individual addresses under review to ensure our system is up-to-date.”

Superintendent Andy Murdoch said: “Police Scotland works closely with the other emergency services, including the Scottish Ambulance Service, on a daily basis.

“Should the Scottish Ambulance Service require Police Scotland’s assistance or support to attend a property, these requests are made through the Area Control Room and are considered on a case-by-case basis through appropriate risk assessment and decision making processes, whereby support or advice can be given.

“We cannot condone any incidents of violence against our blue light colleagues and we will pursue those responsible to help keep emergency workers safe. Everybody should be able to do their job without fear of violence.”