A paramedic who was assaulted by a man he'd been sent to help in Camelford town centre has praised the public for coming to his aid.
Mike Jones was attacked, along with colleagues Will Kivell and Richard Waghorn, on September 12th at around 8pm.
The man responsible - Kevin Spillane - was given a suspended sentence after being convicted of assaulting them.
The three paramedics had been responding to an emergency call involving the defendant who had fallen and was reportedly unconscious.
When they arrived on scene he appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and then became verbally and physically aggressive.
He punched Mike in the chest and spat in his face, attempted to rugby tackle Will, and kicked Richard in the ribs.
Members of the public stepped-in to help restrain him, and police were called.
Eventually he was arrested and taken to hospital by ambulance with a police escort. He was then taken into custody and charged.
Mike, who needed treatment after the incident, said: “I joined the ambulance service to help people in need, and would not have expected to be assaulted.
“Although I enjoy serving my community, being a paramedic can be very challenging. This was one of the worse incidents I have attended in my time with the ambulance service and in my other role with the police.
“Unfortunately it also meant we were unable to continue responding to patients during a busy night shift.”
Mike added: “We would like to thank the brave actions of members of the public and Devon and Cornwall Police for their prompt action and investigation to bring the male to justice.”
Kevin Spillane, 27 of Camelford, was convicted on 14 September at Exeter Magistrates’ Court of four charges of assaulting emergency services workers. He was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was ordered to pay a total of £450 compensation, placed on a curfew for four months between the hours of 8am and 6pm, and given a 20-day rehabilitation order with supervision requirement.
A spokesperson for South Western Ambulance Service said: “This is another appalling example of the manner in which our people are frequently regarded by some members of the public. We are glad this individual has been prosecuted.
“Nobody should have to face that kind of unacceptable behaviour, especially not our dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals.
“Sadly they face violence and aggression every day while they are trying to protect and save people’s lives, which can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues.
“Our people put themselves at risk for the sake of others, and we support whatever action is necessary to protect them from harm and ensure they feel safe.
“Please respect our people, and help them to help you.”
Ambulance staff in the South West reported 153 physical assaults by patients and other members of the public between 23 March and 23 September. That represented a 58% increase on the 97 reported assaults during the same time period in 2019.
They also reported 249 incidents of verbal abuse during the six months, compared with 228 last year. More than one in four (69) of the verbal incidents were by callers to 999 Control Room staff.
Last month paramedic Tracy Higginbottom shared a video message after she was spat at by a patient she was taking to hospital by ambulance in North Cornwall.
Tracy, who has been a paramedic for more than 20 years, said the incident in July left her feeling “contaminated”, and she took a month off work to recover.