Minnesota paramedics attacked by patient in moving ambulance

The Lino Lakes Police Department says a patient assaulted the paramedics who were bringing them to the hospital in a moving ambulance Wednesday night. According to police, the suspect waited until officers cleared the scene and waited for the ambulance to start driving away before they attacked.

A paramedic and EMT are recovering after being assaulted inside a moving ambulance.

“I  don't think it was a planned assault," said Lino Lakes Police Sgt. Chad Shirmers. “I think it’s someone who lashed out.”

Just before midnight Wednesday night, Sgt.  Shirmers was among the officers who received a call for help from a North Memorial EMT and paramedic driving south of 35-E from Washington County.  Evidently, while transporting someone suffering a possible overdose on LSD that patient started punching and kicking the two people in the ambulance trying to help him. 

“The injuries are more severe,” says Sgt. Shirmers. “Paramedics, EMT’s are put in a tough spot in that majority of their interaction with patient is by themselves.”

Scott Tomek is a part-time paramedic in Woodbury and the quality, safety and risk manager for Allina Health.

“It’s not the day in age where everyone is happy to see us,” said Tomek.

Tomek contributed to the launch of a national database a few years ago which aims to collect statistics on how many paramedics are assaulted annually.  He's among those who have been hurt on the job and says it's severely under-reported. 24 assaults were reported for Allina in all of 2016. That number includes violent attacks on paramedics and patients lashing out because of a medical, mental or drug and alcohol issues. Tomek points outs it's up to the paramedic whether or not to report the assault and pursue charges.
“We've had some that have been hit and they say 'They didn't mean it, I don't think they were trying to hit anyone, they were just swinging their arms and I don't want to,'” said Tomek. “Sometimes think it's a detriment that the medics and EMT's care so much.”

Tomek pushing for more health systems to add to this national database because of insight it could offer.

“Until we understand it, people can say yeah we should have handcuffs, tazers, handguns, and yet all those add added dimension,” said Tomek. 

A spokesperson for North Memorial Medical Center wouldn’t comment on the incident only saying the two employees involved have been treated and released. Charges for the suspect are pending.

“Unfortunately, reality is it's probably going to happen again at some point,” said Sgt. Shirmers.

A Lino Lakes police officer was stationed at the hospital, ready to arrest the suspect once the person was discharged.

“She has a fully charged cell phone with plenty of the latest apps and is waiting in the lobby of your hospital,” Lino Lakes police posted on Facebook. “Whenever you are discharged she is going to arrest you and book you for assault.”

In the meantime, “get well soon” cards can be sent to the Lino Lakes Police Department and officers will ensure they get to the paramedics.

Lino Lakes Police Department
640 Town Center Parkway
Lino Lakes, MN 55014

“We understand why law enforcement can be seen as the enemy by criminals, they have arrest powers and can take you to jail,” police wrote. “In a way that actually makes sense. But why would you ever hurt someone where their only job is to provide medical care to you?”

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