Drug overdoses are unpredictable and often difficult for emergency responders to treat as the patient is often not in a state to give any details and things are often chaotic. However, no one could have predicted the events that occurred when first responders arrived on the scene to treat a 25-year old man in the throes of an overdose in Riverwood, Australia.
Newsweek reports that when paramedics arrived, they were met with an angry mob of the young man's relatives. They were angry and attempted to prevent the paramedics from treating the patient. Soon, the altercation gathered the attention of about 80 men who joined in the harassment of the paramedics.
Eventually, one of them took a run at a female paramedic, injuring her shoulder. The paramedics barricaded themselves inside the ambulance as the angry mob outside demanded a defibrillator and other medical gear, insisting they could treat the ailing man. The man eventually died because paramedics were unable to treat him.
It is unclear why there was such heated animosity toward the first responders, who are trained to handle such emergencies. However, such attacks are apparently becoming more commonplace in and around Sydney.
The Australian Paramedic Association released a statement that detailed that the patient died of cardiac arrest while waiting for help.
APA Secretary Steve Pearce said, "the stupidity of these people have taken the life of their family member."
"We don't want any more people to face the horrifying situation of their loved ones dying because paramedics are unable to treat patients after threats of violence," Pearce added.
The scene was so intense that 150 police officers, some in riot gear, were dispatched to deal with the angry mob.
Inspired by these and other attacks that are occurring all over the country, Victoria has implemented new, stricter laws regarding individuals who attack medical personnel. Anyone who does so will now be charged with a category-one offense. This means that it is on par with charges for rape or murder.
Steve McGhie, Secretary for the Ambulance Employees Australia, spoke about the law in a recent interview for ABC Radio Melbourne. He said anyone who attacks a medical worker should be punished to the full extent of the law.
"It'll certainly go a long way to sending a strong message that when people do take that action of assaulting emergency service workers, and certainly frontline health workers, then there are serious ramifications from that," he said.