By Rowan Forster
Berwick is among the top three suburbs whereby paramedics face threats to physical safety, according to a freedom of information request released by Ambulance Victoria.
The state’s paramedics have been issued a list of “no-go zones” in wake of a spate of recent horrific assaults – with some even requiring a police escort before they can treat patients.
Among the other worst areas listed were Moe, Shepparton, Hampton Park, Hastings and Mildura.
Revelations of Berwick ranking high among the results came as a shock to those in the community.
Hayley Collins, whose diabetic daughter requires frequent ambulance callouts to tend to health episodes, fears the spate of violence could deter paramedics from entering her street.
“If sick people here end up struggling because these thugs and drug-users keep lashing out at the people that keep us safe, then I’ll be packing my bags,” she said.
“The only people who are going to suffer are good people who are in need.
“There are some communities where you’d expect this kind of thing, but not in Berwick.”
Ambulance Victoria has highlighted more than 200 addresses where they fear workers could be in danger of being assaulted.
In wake of recent incidents, the State Government has imposed tough new reforms in which any attack on a Victorian emergency service worker will be treated the same as rape and murder by the courts.
Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy said it was disgraceful that paramedics have to risk life and limb to help others.
“Paramedics go to work to save lives,“ she said.
“It is not acceptable that they are attacked just for doing their job.“
“It should be treated like the worst possible offence – they’re there to save our lives,” Ms Collins said.
The spate of violence against emergency service workers in Berwick was flagged by Star News several years ago, when Endeavour Hills paramedic Bracha Rafael spoke about her harrowing experiences.
Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria state secretary Steve McGhie said incidents were most prevalent in the southeast, west and inner-city.
“Generally you’d be talking about certain locations where there are drug and alcohol issues, parts of the western suburbs, inner-city and your south-eastern suburbs,” Mr McGhie said.