A new report details to what extent alcohol poses a major burden on emergency services. The Scottish Ambulance Service report shows that alcohol use is a factor in more than half of all call-outs ambulance staff deal with at weekends and that it is involved in 42% of weekday incidents.
The evidence stems from a Scottish Ambulance Service report looking at the impact of alcohol harm on frontline staff including crews and emergency call-takers. A total of 608 staff members responded to the survey.
The majority of Scottish Ambulance Service staff reported that they have been assaulted when responding to incidents involving alcohol.
- Two-thirds reported physical assaults by members of the public who were under the influence of alcohol.
- Three-quarters reported that they had experienced verbal abuse in these situations.
- Almost half of call-outs to assaults were alcohol-related while a quarter of of responses to slips, trips or falls happened when people had been consuming alcohol
- 95% of paramedics and call-takers said dealing with people who are under the influence of alcohol makes it difficult to do their job.
Staff who took part in the survey conducted in partnership with Alcohol Focus Scotland identified Christmas as the most challenging time of the year but they also expressed a view alcohol is an all year round problem.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, commented on the tremendous burden that alcohol harm puts on others than the users themselves:
The impact of alcohol on the Scottish Ambulance Service is completely unacceptable and unsustainable.
It is appalling that ambulance staff are regularly subjected to verbal and physical abuse from drunk patients and bystanders.”