The Attacks Need to Stop

The Attacks Need to Stop

Dec 16, 2014

In the past couple of weeks, the pattern of assaults against EMTs and paramedics has continued.  If you have not seen the reports from Boston on the attack by a patient on Boston EMS EMT Tony O’Brien, then I suggest that you take a look.  The bite that Mr. O’Brien suffered to his hand is unlike anything that I have ever seen.  Chris Kaiser recently posted an email that he received from a fan who was attacked by a patient.  The circumstances are a little different but the narrative remains the same.  The question now is what will happen?  And what will we as an industry do?

Early last week a very well-known EMS leader advocated on social for EMTs and paramedics to show up at a local county courthouse in uniform in a show of solidarity and support for a paramedic who was assaulted on a call.  His attacker’s sentencing was being held, and the hope was that a show of force might encourage a judge to take the sentencing seriously.  The attacker, 25 year old Remy Blaisdell Gagnon, received a sentence of 60 days after undergoing a mental health examination.  All of this was the result of a guilty plea to certain charges in a deal cut by the prosecutor.

Personally, I cannot help but feel that this was a slap on the wrist, and I fear that the Boston attack will result in the same.  We are not law enforcement, but we are in harm’s way almost as much as they are and our safety needs to be taken seriously by everyone.  If you are assaulted by a patient, take it seriously and make sure that your employer takes it seriously.  File charges, and when it comes time for a trial or sentencing tell everyone that you know.  Advocate for them to show up to support you.  We cannot let events like this one, or the attack by Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Michael Jaccarino on New York City EMT Teresa Soler receive such light punishments.

Michael Jaccarino, the Brooklyn ADA who viciously attacked a New York City EMT in 2012. (photo credit: New York Daily News)

Michael Jaccarino, the Brooklyn ADA who viciously attacked a New York City EMT in 2012. (photo credit: New York Daily News)

If you do not know Soler’s story, I suggest you read up on it.  In November of 2012 She was transporting an intoxicated Jaccarino who has “no recollection” of the incident to the hospital when she was attacked by him so severely that she received two black eyes, and had his hand prints on her neck.  Jaccarino received a sentence of ten days of community service and had to undergo six months of alcohol treatment.  Soler, a 20 year veteran of EMS, had her life changed forever.  Jaccarino, with no memory of the incident, can just dust off his sentence, sit through six months of “treatment” that will probably have little effect on him at all and move on with his life.

If we fill a room with uniformed personnel and show district attorneys, judges, and the media that we take this sort of thing seriously then maybe they will sit up a little taller and read a little deeper into a case when it comes across their desk.  I hope that the personnel who were attacked in Raleigh, North Carolina feel that they got justice, and I hope that Mr. O’Brien gets justice when the time comes for him to put his faith in a legal system that a government he recently put his own faith in by receiving citizenship in the United States calls his attacker forth to answer for her actions.

If you are attacked, please make sure that you report it.  It doesn’t matter if you think that nothing will happen or nothing will be done.  If you do nothing all that you are guaranteeing is your attacker will get off scot free and have the chance to attack somebody else.  If you know an EMT or paramedic who has been attacked, support them.  Go with them to the trial and stand by them, and encourage all of your coworkers and colleagues to do the same.  If we don’t support each other how can we expect anyone else to step up for us?

  • ctmed5408

    First & foremost, defend yourself. Fight back. Then there absolutely needs to be follow through for the entire legal process. Over the last 20 years, anyone who ever put their hands on me paid a price, as they should. I then reported it, documented it accurately & honestly & filed charges with law enforcement. As for the show of support & solidarity, it can never hurt to send a message that we as a profession stand together & will not stand for being treated violently.