Half of 999 call-outs are alcohol related

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Alcohol has been linked to half of all 999 call outs, with one in three emergency workers reported being attacked while doing their job.

A recent survey conducted by each of the services reveals a depressing picture.

It showed a third of blue-light workers reported that they had been subjected to physical abuse while attending an alcohol-related incident, while two thirds said they had experienced verbal abuse.

Roughly half of all incidents that 999 workers attended were alcohol related and almost two thirds of emergency personnel had faced difficulties in securing urgent information because of victims or callers being intoxicated.

The anonymous responses to the surveys depicted the reality facing those on the front line.

One firefighter said: “I was in breathing apparatus at a house fire and I found a man lying in his bed. The smoke alarm was blaring but he only woke up when I shook him to see if he was alive. He punched me in the face.”

An ambulance crew member revealed: “I have been assaulted, spat at and verbally abused too many times to mention. If people could only see the effect they have on an incident when they’re under the influence of alcohol.

Assistant chief constable Mark Williams of Police Scotland, said: “The demands being placed on the emergency services by people who are drunk are huge.

“On many occasions it delays police officers, firefighters and paramedics from getting to members of the public who really do need our protection and help.

“The findings of this survey are as stark as they are unacceptable. Over a four-week period, 36 of police officers were physically abused and 75 per cent were verbally abused as a result of individuals who chose to misuse alcohol.”

Assistant chief officer David McGown of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The public will be shocked to hear our front-line firefighters and control officers are often abused and obstructed by people under the influence of alcohol.

“They are all working to save lives and protect property. Being drunk is absolutely no excuse for impeding emergency responders or directing abuse at them. We are determined to get the message across – this is reckless, criminal behaviour that risks lives and it can never be tolerated.”

Daren Mochrie, the director of service delivery for the Scottish Ambulance Service, added: “Our front line staff should not have to fear for their own safety when treating patients but alcohol is a key factor in most assaults.

“They respond to patients in all weathers and situations and deserve the public’s respect for the high-quality care that they provide.

He added: “However, at times they are verbally abused and have to put up with being pushed and spat on, as well as being kicked, punched and in some extreme cases assaulted with a variety of weapons.

“Instances of this kind of behaviour would fall dramatically if people learned to drink responsibly.”