Drunken attacks on emergency staff draw ire

The drunk behaviour of some young people in Dunedin is hindering emergency services’ ability to go about their job and action will be taken, emergency services spokesmen say.

Three incidents in Dunedin at the weekend have prompted St John to remind students celebrating their return to study and the public that damage and abuse of its vehicles, patients and staff are not acceptable behaviour.

A group of drunk revellers opening the door of an ambulance while a young child was being treated inside was one of the ‘‘distressing’’ incidents St John dealt with on Friday night.

An intoxicated male jumped on to a moving ambulance and rode on it before falling to the ground 200m later, narrowly avoiding serious injury.

The same night, a young man kicked an ambulance as it was attending an incident.

St John Coastal Otago territory manager Doug Third said the behaviour compromised ambulance officers’ ability to do their jobs treating members of the public in need.

‘‘We are out in the community caring for the people of Dunedin and incidents like this are hampering the life-saving work we do,’’ Mr Third said.

‘‘Not only is it distressing for patients being treated, it is also upsetting for our people.

‘‘It’s just not acceptable.’’

Mr Third said it was another example of the harm alcohol caused and the poor decision-making of those under the influence.

‘‘St John has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of its people and equipment and any footage that we obtain of people abusing our people or equipment will be passed on to the appropriate tertiary institution or New Zealand Police immediately.’’

It is the University of Otago’s Orientation Week and St John and police asked students to enjoy activities during the week, but to do so safely and responsibly while being considerate of others.

Police said while there had been improvement, O Week so far was not without problems.

Police’s Otago Coastal Area prevention manager, Inspector Wil Black, of Dunedin, said the reckless and irresponsible behaviour shown was completely unacceptable.

‘‘No-one should have to put up with this during their workday, especially while assisting those in need.

‘‘Those responsible should know that they are not only putting themselves in danger, but innocent people too.’’

Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said that on Monday night, two students were arrested in Castle St for disorder and fighting, but both were released with only pre-charge warnings.

A teenager from Auckland visiting friends yesterday pleaded guilty to smashing the windscreen of a police van in Castle St on Saturday.

One man in Castle St had to be removed from a roof that same day, allegedly heavily under the influence of the drug MDMA, known as ecstasy.

‘‘He didn’t know where he was, he was absolutely wasted,’’ Snr Sgt Dinnissen said.

Police had, however, noticed students were more likely to be partying outside and not crowding flats following the well publicised death of student Sophia Crestani in October.

‘‘Kids are still talking about it. It’s still fresh in their mind.’’

‘‘There was a party shut down Castle St on Saturday, but there were only 15 people in the house.

While there were ‘‘hundreds’’ outside, he said there was not the issue of overcrowding in the house.

Police had also seen a benefit in an increase in the number of students registering their events on the Good One Party Register, which let multiple agencies know a party was planned.

A University of Otago spokeswoman said the university was working with emergency services to identify whether any offenders were students.

If they were Otago students, the consequences would be serious.

Many non-Otago students and others were also attracted to events in the student area, she said.


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