'I come to work to help people not to be assaulted' says paramedic who was spat at on shift

Geoff Williams says this is the third occasion that he has been assaulted whilst he's been a paramedic. Credit: Welsh Ambulance Service

A paramedic has been sharing his ordeal of being spat and sworn at by a man he was trying to help.

Geoff Williams, 34, who is based in Chepstow, needed hospital treatment after the attack and says he felt 'dirty' after the incident.

The paramedic said: "An assault on one of us is an assault on all of us...I come to work to help people, not to be assaulted.

"This felt personal – there was so much malice."

Geoff and his colleague Matt Baker, an emergency medical technician, were responding to a medical emergency in Cwmbran in August.

He said: "When we got there, the man was in an agitated state, heavily intoxicated and behaving erratically.

"We got him onto the back of the ambulance, and the police arrested him for being drunk and disorderly in the process.

"I got him onto the stretcher but he was becoming aggressive and lashing out.

"The next minute, he said ‘You’re a c**t’ and spat in my face...The only way I can describe how I felt is dirty – just really dirty.”

After Geoff and Matt took the man to hospital, Geoff then had to have his eyes flushed after being spat at, as well as a round of emergency bloods.

A second round of bloods later this month will determine whether Geoff has developed an infection.

He said: “With any assault involving bodily fluids, the risk is huge...You have to be careful about things like hepatitis, tuberculosis and Covid-19.

The Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance said the incident affected the whole community when the ambulance had to be taken off the road.

"Having my eyes flushed meant I couldn’t drive, which in turn meant I couldn’t finish my shift, and when an ambulance is taken off the road, that can have a huge impact on service delivery, especially in a small community.

"My wife Hollie is a paramedic in Newport, and she had the call that we both dread, which was to say that the other had been assaulted.

“It was a difficult time.”

Geoff, who lives in Gloucestershire, started his ambulance career as a volunteer community first responder. He then later qualified as an emergency medical technician and a paramedic.

In his eight-year career, this was his third assault.

"It definitely makes you more conscious of things,” he said.

"This experience will always be at the back of my mind now when I’m treating other patients.”

At Newport Magistrates’ Court on 13 October 2023, Curtis Card pleaded guilty to assault by beating of an emergency worker, being drunk and disorderly in a public place and possession of a Class B controlled drug.

He was ordered to pay £100 compensation to Geoff and was also given a community order, including a three-month curfew and a 10-day rehabilitation requirement.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “This incident not only affected Geoff, but the whole community paid the price when that ambulance was taken off the road and no longer available to respond, and that – frankly – is unacceptable.

"We would encourage judges and magistrates to use the full extent of their sentencing powers when sentencing assault on emergency worker offences, ensuring that sentences are proportionate but also reflect the hurt and pain inflicted by offenders.

"Being assaulted is not – and never should be – ‘part of the job.’

"Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for their own.”

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