The HSE Ambulance Service has participated in a European project in relation to the development of PPE proposals. However, the HSE said it currently has ‘no plans’ as yet to provide ambulance personnel with stab vests. The emergency ambulance service has been identified however as an end-user in a trial for a new generation of body Armour called BOSSA.
In response to an issue raised in a parliamentary question by TD Séan Kenny, Director of the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) Martin Dunne said ‘numerous consultations established that there was no requirement for the vests. Last year the ambulance service participated in a European project proposal in relation to the development of uniform personal protective equipment’ he said.
Recent figures show that there have been over 300 attacks on front-line emergency personnel. The report also revealed that over 1,500 attacks in a five year period. Incidents included alleged assaults on prison officers, Gardaí, ambulance personnel and members of the fire brigade and defence forces as well staff assisting at hospitals.
The BOASSA project aims at a novel generation of smart and comfortable body armour that secures intervention personnel against most common assault, such as slash and low energetic stab attacks with sharp objects and attacks with a blunt object.
The HSE confirmed that there is a robust programme in place whereby staff are “empowereed to risk assess, and if necessary, withdraw from any situation where they feel their safety may be compromised”. In the event that ambulance crews may be responding to potentially dangerous situations, Gardai will be informed by Ambulance Control before mobilising staff to the scene of the incident.
“Fortunately there have been no incidents where NAS staff have been stabbed while carrying out their duties,” the HSE added.