MORE than 1,700 incidents of violence and and aggression towards ambulance staff in the south west were reported in the space of a year, including a patient who spat in the eye of a paramedic.

Between March 24, 2020 and March 23, 2021, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) colleagues reported 1,747 incidents of violence and aggression from patients and other members of the public.

These include 515 verbal abuse incidents, 447 aggressive behaviour incidents and 322 physical assaults.

The figures represent a 33 per cent increase in reported incidents from the previous 12 months.

Newly qualified paramedics Dan Williams and Kyiah Ellis were among those assaulted on duty by a patient.

They responded to a potentially serious incident, involving a man who was reportedly unconscious on a bus, in the Weston area of Bath on February 12.

The man, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, became physically and verbally aggressive soon after they arrived around 6.50pm.

He exited the bus, headbutted its wing mirror and windscreen, and punched a parked car.

Dan and Kyiah called for police assistance and retreated onto the bus for their safety.

The man re-entered the bus and spat in Dan’s eye, while continuing to shout at him and Kyiah. He was arrested by police, taken into custody and charged.

The man was convicted at Bath Magistrates’ Court on February 15 of three charges of assaulting emergency services workers, and one charge of criminal damage. He was sentenced to 32 week in prison and ordered to pay a total of £300 compensation to the victims.

Paramedic Mike Jones, who is SWASFT’s violence reduction lead, said: “Sadly our people are victim every day to unacceptable behaviour from a minority of patients and other members of the public, while they are serving the communities of the south west and saving lives.

“Any such incident can have a lasting impact on them, their loved ones, and other colleagues.

“We take whatever is necessary to protect our people from harm, including doing all we can to ensure offenders are prosecuted through the criminal justice system.

“Please respect our people, and help them to help you.”