A young paramedic who moved to Melbourne to follow her dream has revealed the horrific threats and abuse she has endured from patients she was trying to help.
After moving to Australia from New Zealand, Steff Dewhurst said it took less than six months before she was assaulted by a patient for the first time.
She is now one of the thousands of Australian paramedics demanding better protection in the wake of a growing number of physical assaults.
“I hadn’t even been in the job for six months before my first assault where I was punched in the face by a patient,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“Another patient told me he was going to stalk me. He detailed how he was going to find out where I lived, attack me, rape me and then strangle me to death. He was escorted from the hospital and waited for me in the ambulance bay.”
Ms Dewhurst said she had nightmares for weeks after the incident that left her “rattled to her core”.
“It’s one of the few times I have genuinely felt terror. I was too afraid to walk back to the ambulance so my colleagues walked me to the truck so we could leave the hospital,” she added.
“The sad and disgusting thing is that almost every one of my colleagues also has a story about the violence they have faced as a paramedic.
“This is not what we signed up for and it is not okay.”
Ms Dewhurst concluded her post with the trending campaign slogan – “it is not okay to assault paramedics”.
Victorian Premier urged to take action
It comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has scheduled a meeting following rising demand from the state’s police association and ambulance unions.
The Police Association and Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria wrote to Mr Andrews on Friday, on behalf of 20,000 police, paramedics and protective service officers, requesting the meeting.
The letter states emergency service workers are “justifiably angry and disgusted” after a County Court decision last week which let two women avoid serving jail terms after assaulting a paramedic.
“This manifestly unjust outcome has occurred despite Victoria’s Sentencing Act 1991 mandating a custodial sentence for people convicted of assaulting an emergency services worker,” the letter reads.
“We are seeking this urgent meeting with you, so that our collective members can obtain ironclad assurances by you, on behalf of the government, that you will act with urgency to guarantee that jail will mean jail for those who choose to assault an emergency services worker – no excuses.”