1. ITV Report

Ambulance service 'at breaking point' as threats reach all-time high

Managers say the service is at "breaking point" following the spike in threats Photo: ITV News

Threats against ambulance staff in the South West have reached an all-time high with rates now five times higher than they were five years ago.

Operators dealing with life or death emergency calls have told ITV News threats to kill are frequently made against them.

This is just one of a growing number of calls ambulance staff have to endure every day:

Figures from South Western Ambulance Service have revealed a dramatic rise in the number of threats made in staff over the last five years:

Number of staff threatened on duty in 2011
Number of staff threatened on duty in 2015

So great is the threat on the road, new ambulances have CCTV cameras and panic alarms fitted to protect them from violent patients.

40 of these ambulances will join the 300-strong fleet this year, at a cost of £160,000 each. With assaults causing some staff to leave the service they can't come soon enough.

The service has 100 paramedic vacancies, some following resignations after physical assaults. Managers say "it's created a service at breaking point."

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