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Paramedic sworn and spat at by man he was trying to help

Geoff Williams

A PARAMEDIC who was called a ‘c**t’ and spat at by a patient has relived his ordeal.

Geoff Williams, who is based in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, needed hospital treatment after an attack by the man he was trying to help.

The 34-year-old describes feeling ‘dirty’ after the incident, which left him unable to work the remainder of his shift.

Geoff 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.

Geoff 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.”

Geoff and Matt took the man to hospital, where Geoff had his eyes flushed and 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.

“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, later qualifying 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.

New guidelines to help courts determine how to sentence those who assault an emergency worker came into effect in July 2021.

The Sentencing Council guidelines help courts in England and Wales to make a balanced assessment of the seriousness of the offence and impose a proportionate sentence.

It is the first time that judges and magistrates have had specific guidance for sentencing assault on emergency worker offences, which reflects legislation that increased the maximum sentence for common assault when the victim is an emergency worker.

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.”