- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Ambulance crews in Indianapolis are being trained on how to prevent or escape assaults in response to injuries caused by patients during medical runs.

Indianapolis EMS data shows that more than 60 Indianapolis paramedics and EMTs have been hurt during patient attacks since 2015.

A recent review of workplace injuries has led to other changes, including lighter-weight medical kits and policies regarding the handling of patients’ firearms, the Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/2p2jRTS ) reported. Each ambulance will soon include boxes to secure any guns found.

Paramedic Linda Hodge-McKinney, who was attacked by a patient in 2013, said a recent training class for such professionals “was a godsend.”

“It was like a big weight was lifted from my shoulders,” Hodge-McKinney said.

Hodge-McKinney said she doesn’t know why the patient in the 2013 incident had attacked her, but that many patients often confuse EMS workers for police officers or are simply drunk and angry.

Attacks on paramedics aren’t new. One paramedic said that for years, EMS workers were expected to take their punches and then move on to the next scene.

“You start to feel like nobody cares,” said Tammy Mabrey, an Indianapolis EMS safety officer. “People feel like they’re told it’s just part of your job.”

One of Indianapolis’ most intense attacks on paramedic was in the 1990s, when a medic was shot and later recovered. But most assaults - such as biting or spitting, slapping or scratching, punching or kicking - escape notice.

Workers have learned how to calm down hostile patients in a non-threatening way as well as how to deflect blows, evade grapples and escape grips. They also received situational awareness training, such as if a patient at an emergency scene decides to draw a gun.

Hodge-McKinney said one tactic she learned, not allowing a hostile patient into the confines of the ambulance until he or she has calmed down, could’ve prevented the attack about four years ago.

“I am not making you go. I am not the police,” Hodge-McKinney said. “We can do that now.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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