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Paramedic in hammer attack says HSE failed to protect him

A paramedic attacked by a man with a wheel brace and hammer yesterday demanded more protection for him and his colleagues while on emergency calls.

Derek O'Rourke said emergency workers faced attacks every day and the issue of paramedic safety was being "brushed over" by the HSE and SIPTU.

James Doyle (33) attacked Mr O'Rourke after an ambulance arrived to assist him.

Doyle, of Glenshane Grove, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault and production of the wheel brace and hammer with intent to intimidate on March 13, 2009 on Ellensborough Drive. He has three previous convictions for possession of drugs, criminal damage and car theft.

Mr O'Rourke told the court that the attack made him question his line of work and that he regularly encountered violent incidents in his job. He said he had been the victim of another assault only two nights ago. Mr O'Rourke said his management and union has let him and his colleagues down by failing to ensure they are issued with protective equipment.

The paramedic refused an offer of compensation, saying he would prefer any money to be paid to Tallaght Children's Hospital.

Garda JP Donoghue said an ambulance was called when Doyle was spotted slumped over the wheel of a car. Due to Doyle's aggression, Mr O'Rourke called the gardai. He then decided to to take the keys from the ignition so Doyle could not attempt to drive in his intoxicated state.

When he tried to take the keys, Doyle called him a "f**king scumbag" and got out of the car.

He pushed Mr O'Rourke, causing him to fall backwards. He then tried to punch him but the paramedic dodged the blow. His colleague ran back to the ambulance to press the panic button while Doyle returned to the car and armed himself with a hammer and wheel brace.

He told Mr O'Rourke he would "f**king kill" him and struck him on the shoulder with the wheel brace. Doyle then threw the hammer but missed. Gardai arrived shortly afterwards and arrested Doyle who was still extremely aggressive.

He will be sentenced next week.

Irish Independent