An ambulance patient has allegedly punched and spat on a paramedic, amid a row over mandatory sentencing laws for similar attacks.
Paramedics were called to an Epping home in northern Melbourne about 12.40am on Thursday to treat the 22-year-old, who was unconscious after drinking excessively, Ambulance Victoria said.
“On attempting to rouse the patient, he woke and became verbally aggressive and abusive towards the crew, spitting at them,” it was alleged.
The man was sedated and wheeled on a stretcher to the ambulance, when he allegedly lunged at a 44-year-old paramedic and punched him in the face.
“This caused the stretcher to tip, and the paramedic grabbed the stretcher to stop it from falling resulting in the paramedic taking the full weight of the stretcher and the patient in his outstretched arms.”
The paramedic sustained facial injuries and was hospitalised with severe back pain.
The alleged offender was also hospitalised.
The incident comes after two women, Amanda Warren, 33, and Caris Underwood, 20, had their jail sentences for assaulting a paramedic in 2016 quashed on appeal.
The County Court decision prompted the Victorian government to flag a review of the mandatory minimum six-month term for attacking emergency service workers unless there are special reasons.
The women argued their youth and troubled childhoods constituted special reasons.
Premier Daniel Andrews admitted that loophole needed to be “fixed” but said the government would not rush the process.
“We’re going to take the time to get this right. Poor drafting is perhaps one of the reasons we are … talking about this,” he said on Thursday.
“The other reason is, of course, that some people think it’s OK to behave this way.”
The Liberal opposition on Thursday ramped up outrage over the “callous” incidents.
“It enraged many of us that these two thugs have not been given a custodial sentence by the courts. I think many Victorians are angered, are shocked, and frankly feel the courts and the government are not doing all they can to protect them,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy told reporters.
He will introduce a bill next week to narrow the special reasons category.
Assaults on paramedics dropped from 234 to 147 in 2017 but crews still faced abuse, Ambulance Victoria boss Tony Walker said.
“Every 50 hours a paramedic is actually either physically or verbally assaulted,” he told parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee on Thursday.
“And they’re reporting being exposed to about 14 events a day where violence or aggression was part of the scene.”