London News & Search
A woman paramedic feared she had become the latest victim of the acid attack epidemic when she was sprayed in the face with a noxious substance.
After stopping to ask if they needed help, the men pulled bandanas over their faces and one threw liquid at her when she wound down her car window.
The 32-year-old was hit by the liquid – which turned out to be an unknown irritant but not acid – in the face, neck and chest. She was checked over at a nearby ambulance station and later at North Middlesex hospital as a precaution.
The paramedic, who was too distressed by the incident to be named, said: “It was horrible. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.
“It all happened very quickly – one of them threw liquid out of a plastic bottle at me. The window was only open a few inches but the liquid went on my face, neck and chest. He was wearing latex gloves, so my first thought was: ‘is this acid?’”
The incident happened in Ferry Lane at about 1.30am. Police are seeking witnesses. The paramedic had been responding to an emergency call concerning a man with chest pain at the time.
“It was terrifying,” she said. “This was so cowardly. It is my job to help people. I was on my way to help a patient and I stopped because I am caring and I thought they needed my help. They have taken away my trust.
“What they’ve done is horrific in so many ways. It was premeditated and it delayed a patient getting treatment. It took a paramedic off the road that night. And yet if one my attackers were hurt, I would still treat them because that is the job.”
In a separate incident, Met officers in Tower Hamlets today revealed that a plastic bottle suspected of containing acid had been seized after a suspected robber was stopped and searched. A man was arrested.
It came as Home Secretary Amber Rudd restated her commitment to consider life sentences for those who commit acid attacks.
She told the BBC that she did not think current sentencing was strong enough. She said her department was working with the Crown Prosecution Service to review guidelines.
She said: “We should have further sentencing guidelines to make sure that acid attacks have more severe penalties because the fact is if somebody receives an acid attack quite often they have a sentence for life, and I think that’s what we should have potentially for the people who are committing these dreadful acts.”
Shop owners will also be asked to make sure harmful acids do not end up in the hands of young people, Ms Rudd added.
Medical advice on dealing with acid attacks is to remove as much liquid as possible, using a towel or gloves, before rinsing the affected area in cool water for at least 10 minutes.
The number of attacks, mostly verbal or physical, on London ambulance crews has risen to about 500 a year. All frontline responders are now being warned to be cautious when flagged down unexpectedly by people requesting help.
Peter Rhodes, LAS assistant director of operations said: “I am appalled by this unimaginable attack of cruelty.
“The paramedic stopped to help these men who she believed were in trouble. But instead they assaulted her in a premeditated attack, not only harming her but delaying treatment to a potentially critically ill patient.
“We have reported this incident to the police and will do everything in our power to make sure those responsible are identified and convicted for this senseless attack.”
He added: “While this type of situation is thankfully very rare, we are reminding medics they should be mindful of the potential risk and be cautious in similar situations.
“Naturally we are doing everything we can to support the paramedic who is understandably distressed by this incident. We encourage our staff to report violent incidents and do everything we can to give our crews a sense of safety at work”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
London News & Search