Friday 18 December 2009
UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union, is today (Friday 18th) appealing to the public to behave themselves after their office parties. The Friday before Christmas, the annual office party day, is dubbed "black" Friday by paramedics and ambulance workers, because they face an increase in drink-fuelled violence.
On this day, the number of 999 calls goes up along with violence, threats and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast, the day will be even more difficult for those emergency workers. The union wants people to enjoy their office parties, but says they should leave paramedics and ambulance crew to get on with their jobs in peace.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: "The Friday before Christmas is the day that paramedics dread. It is shameful that ambulance crews, who are out 24/7 with the sole aim of saving lives and caring for the sick and injured, become the target of violence, intimidation and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast, the day will be even more difficult for those emergency workers.
"I am appealing to the public today and every day to leave ambulance workers to get on with their jobs in peace. If not, the next time you dial 999, our life saving paramedic maybe out of action."
In Scotland the operation of the Emergency Workers Act has given some support to hard-pressed ambulance crews - but David Forbes - UNISONScotland's Regional Organiser for the Ambulance Service says some people still need to change their attitude.
"Ambulance staff know that Scotland values them and the service they provide, but there are still a small minority who when they have too much to drink, seem to want to abuse and attack us, or think that ambulances are some kind of taxi service. All these people achieve is to damage the service for everyone else."