AN ex-Sutton Coldfield and Erdington firefighter has spoken out after he was viciously attacked while helping a patient in his current role with the ambulance service.
Bob Burness suffered a horrific assault while working as a West Midlands Ambulance Service technician last Tuesday (January 2) when he was head-butted and his nose split while attending to an ‘unresponsive man’.
The former West Midlands firefighter, who used to work at both the Lichfield Road and Orphanage Road during his 30 years of service, said: “I was stunned. He went from 0-90 miles per hour in a second. I reacted on instinct I think. I felt a range of emotions; anger, frustration," the 59-year-old from Great Barr said.
The sickening incident took place when Bob and his crew were called out to Moor Street in West Bromwich.
A man was initially unconscious at the time of the call.
Recalling what happened, Bob said: “Our three person crew was called to reports of an unresponsive man in his 20s in a stairwell. We started our assessments and he became aggressive.
“He threw a beer can at our student paramedic officer and squared up to her so I stood between them. Without warning he head-butted me and it split my nose and knocked me backwards.
“He chased the paramedic up the stairs so I ran upstairs too. We managed to bring him downstairs and restrained him until the police arrived. He was handcuffed and taken away.”
Sadly, Bob says he is used to these kind of incidents. “I have been spat at and pushed down stairs before. It’s par for the course. Certain people in society don't have self-control," he said.
"Most don't really care. They aren't in a fit state to think logically; if it is logical then it is even worse."
The former Birmingham North firefighter is now into his 10th year working with the ambulance service.
And he vowed these incidents will not stop him from continuing his job.
"This is what I do, I help people," he added.
“It won't put me off. But I won't be able to help being wary of the next few calls in a suspicious place for a while."
After the attack, Donald Hornby, 25, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and ordered to pay £265 in fines at a hearing at Dudley Magistrates' Court last Thursday (January 5).
Speaking on the sentence, Bob said: “Obviously I would prefer it to be longer as a deterrent to others but at least he got a custodial sentence.”
Nathan Hudson, WMAS General Manager for Birmingham, said: "We welcome the fact that a custodial sentence has been issued in this case but are disappointed it is not longer. Is 12 weeks enough for a serious assault on a member of ambulance staff who had been called to try and help the defendant?
“It is extremely disappointing that our staff suffer physical and verbal abuse when all they are trying to do is help members of the public with medical emergencies."
Steve Elliker, West Midlands Ambulance Service's Regional Head of Security and Safety said: "It is completely unacceptable that ambulance staff, who are responding to help people who have serious medical conditions or injuries, should have to face violence and verbal abuse.
“The Trust has a zero tolerance policy in place and works extremely hard to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who attacks our staff. It is simply not acceptable that staff who are there to help people, suffer at the hands of patients, their relatives or other people at the scene. Any type of assault against our staff will not be tolerated.”