Vast improvements are required if emergency service workers are to feel safe in the line of duty, according to an MSP.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon has blasted the current levels of support afforded to ambulance staff, police and fire crews after two paramedics were subjected to a terrifying attack in Falkirk.
Simon Glenn and Laura Heales were forced to lock themselves inside their ambulance as drunken thug Zilvinas Norkunas (23) smashed up the vehicle.
The Lithuanian national had also assaulted the ambulance staff as they tended to him for a head wound.
The horrific incident, which took place on July 21, landed Norkunas in front of Falkirk Sheriff Court last week, where he was fined a total of £2235 for the damage he caused and ordered to pay £500 in compensation to each paramedic.
Ms Lennon, the Labour representative for Central Scotland, insists further action must be taken to eradicate such behaviour.
Currently, the toughest sentence that can be given to anyone who attacks a member of the emergency services, which includes GPs, doctors, nurses and midwives, is a year in jail, a £10,000 fine or both. However, Ms Lennon believes those options, introduced by the SNP, fall way short of what is necessary.
She said: “Much more needs to be done to properly resource our emergency services and also to come down hard on people who endanger or abuse those who work round-the-clock to keep us all safe.
“Violence against ambulance staff, or anyone who is simply doing their job, is never acceptable. Our hard-working paramedics can literally be the difference between life and death.
“The ambulance service deserves support, but like other areas of the health service under the SNP, paramedics have been left overworked, under-staffed and under-resourced. Ambulance crews are often now so stretched that people have to wait hours to get one — and many are operating with a single technician or paramedic which not only puts further strain on staff, it puts lives at risk and jeopardises staff safety.”
Central Scotland Conservative MSP Alison Harris echoed the call for strict measures when dealing with those who use violence against ambulance, police or fire service employees.
She said: “The importance of our emergency workers simply cannot be underestimated and it is without question that all our emergency services have the legal support to keep them safe. It is vital that those who attack emergency services staff feel the enhanced force of the law.”
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald added: “It is right and proper that emergency workers are protected as they go about their vital work in keeping our communities safe. The successful lobbying by the SNP for VAT exemption since the merger of Scotland’s fire services and regional constabularies has allowed more money to go directly into frontline services.”