Steff Dewhurst told her story on Facebook.
Steff Dewhurst told her story on Facebook.

Paramedic tells of terrifying attack

A PARAMEDIC'S terrifying encounter with a patient has been shared around the country after she bravely revealed her story on Facebook.

Steff Dewhurst, a New Zealander living in Melbourne, has been an ambulance worker for four years. She is one of a countless number of paramedics who have been assaulted, abused or threatened on the job - and she's had enough.

On Thursday, Ms Dewhurst wrote that she left her family, friends and life behind to move to Melbourne for work. She didn't sign up for a part of the job that paramedics have for too long suffered through in silence.

"I hadn't even been in the job for six months before my first assault where I was punched in the face by a patient," she wrote.

"Another patient told me he was going to stalk me. He detailed how he was going to find out where I lived, attack me, rape me and then strangle me to death. He was escorted from the hospital and waited for me in the ambulance bay."

She said that, as she left the building, he "came for me".

"(He was) yelling. I have never run so fast in my life," she wrote.

 

Steff Dewhurst is bravely telling her story.
Steff Dewhurst is bravely telling her story.

 

"I had nightmares for weeks. It rattled me to my absolute core and, to this day, I still remember my heart racing as I ran from him. It's one of the few times I have genuinely felt terror.

"I was too afraid to walk back to the ambulance so my colleagues walked me to the truck so we could leave the hospital."

Her story is far from unique. Almost every one of her colleagues has a story of facing violence, she says.

"This is not what we signed up for and it is not OK. It is NOT OK to assault paramedics. And we have had enough."

The response to Ms Dewhurst's story was overwhelming. By Saturday it had been shared more than 1200 times and received hundreds of comments.

Debra Wilson wrote: "Thank you for your service Steff. I hope you come home safe and sound every night."

Kristina Mitchell wrote: "I'm so sorry you paramedics have to tolerate this barbaric behaviour. You all do such a wonderful job."

Amanda Kim wrote: "Thank you for the job you do. It is never OK to assault someone who is helping you. We need a zero-tolerance policy which is backed up by judges."

 

Paramedic Paul Judd was assaulted by Amanda Warren and Caris Underwood, but both women were spared jail. Picture: David Crosling
Paramedic Paul Judd was assaulted by Amanda Warren and Caris Underwood, but both women were spared jail. Picture: David Crosling

The story follows a week of assaults on paramedics working around the clock to keep Victorians safe.

On Thursday morning, a paramedic was punched in the face and suffered a serious back injury when a drunk man lashed out at him.

John, whose surname has been withheld, was called to a house in Epping, in Melbourne's north, about 12.40am after family members could not wake Wishwan Seetloo, 22.

When John stepped in, he was assaulted. The paramedic with 19 years of experience told 3AW he suffered a "glancing blow" under his eye but, as he tried to avoid strikes, the stretcher Mr Seetloo was on tipped.

"I reached out to grab it and effectively took a 200kg load and quite badly strained my back," he said.

Mr Seetloo apologised publicly but admitted he did not remember the incident.

"I wasn't conscious. I don't know what I was doing," Mr Seetloo told Ten News.

"I would like to apologise because I don't want this happening to anybody. I want to say sorry for it."

 

Amanda Warren assaulted a paramedic in Reservoir in April 2016. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP
Amanda Warren assaulted a paramedic in Reservoir in April 2016. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP

 

Paul said he was not ready to meet with him. No charges have yet been laid but police are investigating.

Earlier this week, two women who bashed a paramedic while they were intoxicated had their sentences quashed because they had difficult childhoods and had battled drug, alcohol and mental health problems.

Caris Underwood, 22, and Amanda Warren, 33, repeatedly punched and kicked paramedic Paul Judd after a two-day binge on bourbon, champagne and cannabis in Reservoir, in Melbourne's north.

Mr Judd wiped away tears on Tuesday as Judge Barbara Cotterell overturned the women's prison sentences imposed last December in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

The decision forced paramedics like Ms Dewhurst to publicly protest. They've told their stories on social media and prominently on the back of ambulance vehicles.

Many read, simply: "It is NOT OK to assault paramedics."

 

The message could not be more clear.
The message could not be more clear.

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