Philly Medics Attacked During Call

17 Nov, 2020 Liz Carey


Philadelphia, PA ( – Police in Philadelphia say medics who were attending to a patient were attacked by an assailant lobbing bricks at them Sunday.

According to Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments, two medics were responding to a call to help an elderly man on West Somerset Street just after midnight, when they were ambushed by a man throwing bricks at them and their ambulance.

The man then jumped up on the hood of the vehicle, causing damage to the vehicle.

While the medics called for back-up from the police, the suspect ran away before the police arrived. He was later apprehended and arrested on vandalism charges, police said.

Violence in Philadelphia has been on the increase since the death of Walter Wallace, Jr., a 27-year-old black man with mental problems who was fatally shot by police officers there.

But research indicates that being a medic or EMT may be more dangerous than other jobs.

According to a report released in September 2019, researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that between 8 and 9 EMTs and paramedics out of every 100 are hospitalized for an occupational injury. The average for all other jobs is two out of every 100.

Data from the CDC shows that emergency workers not only have physically taxing jobs, but that they regularly come into contact with hazardous substances, like blood and bodily fluids, while they are working. The majority of reported EMT and paramedic injuries, the CDC’s data shows, result from moving injuries – lifting patients, kneeling or bending – that make them prone to back injuries and sprains.

EMTs and paramedics are also subject to assaults, which are at least 22 times higher than all other occupations. The number may be much higher, researchers believe, because so many of the assaults go unreported.

Brian Maguire, an epidemiologist and former paramedic, told Occupational Safety and Health magazine that often they are not reported because it is an accepted part of the job that many people in the profession assume will never change.

Audrey Reichard, epidemiologist at NIOSH and researcher who studied the data, said she saw a similar attitude as she was doing her research.

"Our [injury] numbers aren't huge in the violence area, but we suspect that there's a large amount of underreporting that occurs -- that EMS workers often feel like it's just part of the job," she told OHS magazine. “So, I feel that our numbers just aren't a good representation of what's happening out there in violence."

Another danger to EMTs and paramedics, the report indicated, is traffic accidents.

Just last Wednesday, on Nov. 11, in Natick, Mass., a wrong-way driver on the Massachusetts Pike injured two ambulance personnel and a passenger when his car crashed into the ambulance.

Troopers spotted the driver, whose name they did not release, traveling west on the eastbound side of the highway at an excessive speed around 3 a.m. After following him and signaling to him to get over, the troopers finally abandoned the chase at the direction of Troop H headquarters.

Several other troopers were notified, and deployed stop sticks across the lane in which the wrong-way driver was driving, state police said, according to WHDH News in Boston.

When the wrong-way driver hit the stop sticks, he continued forward for a few feet before crashing into the ambulance.

Two ambulance personnel, a 45-year-old man and a 38-year-old man, were taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. A patient being transported for non-urgent conditions was also inside the ambulance and was taken to Tufts Medical Center and treated for minor injuries, WHDH said. As of Nov. 12, the wrong way driver remained hospitalized in critical condition, the station reported.


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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