One Boston emergency medical technician had his nose broken four times. Another was attacked with cinder blocks dropped off the roof of a housing project. Others have been stabbed with drug-filled syringes, chased by dogs, and strafed by gunfire after arriving at crime scenes before the shooting stopped, says the Boston Globe. EMTs, who are responding to more calls each year, often become victims themselves as they face Boston’s rampant street violence without the guns, mace, and nightsticks that police officers carry.
Last year, 28 percent of the 193 injuries suffered by city EMTs were the result of violence, a figure that has held constant over five years. This year EMTs have been injured in 24 attacks. Since 1994, four EMTs have resigned as a result of injuries from violence. The National EMS Memorial Service, a volunteer group in Virginia, said 30 EMTs have died because of violence since 1993, 14 of them while responding to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “Violence isn’t something an EMT should have to deal with,” said Richard Serino, chief of Boston’s emergency medical services, who noted that more than half of last year’s injured employees missed a day of work or more. “One EMT injured as a result of an assault is too many.” Many EMTs said they are overworked and undertrained for what they confront. They are increasingly sent to calls that in the past may have been answered by police — such as a report of a “man down” or someone drunk in the street — and often must work without police assistance to subdue hostile patients or others interfering with their care.