Initiative Would Make Assault On A Medical First Responder A Felony

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Some local officials have called for greater protection of emergency medical technicians and paramedics, after an EMT was attacked by a patient in the Bronx.

“I was treating a patient for altered mental status,” EMT Betty Higdon told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “Grabbed my shirt, started punching my head, choking my neck until I couldn’t breathe.”

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

Higdon was wearing a neck brace Tuesday at a news conference calling for a change to the law, Silverman reported.

“He came out of the restraints, he grabbed my hair. So he started whipping my head back and forth,” Higdon added.

The suspect was charged with a misdemeanor for the attack because of the way the law is currently written.

“Beat her to a pulp. You would imagine that that individual should be charged with a felony,” State Senator Martin Golden said.

The new initiative would provide EMTs and paramedics who are assaulted on the job with the same legal protection that is currently afforded to police officers.

“No longer will we have to prove serious physical injury. We need only prove physical injury,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes told Silverman. “We are not going to let them be targets of sick people. They are going to pay a consequence if they hurt our EMTs.”

Hynes said first responders do important work and must be protected by the law.

“And not expect some freako to understand that you’re going to pay a price if you assault one of these people who are coming to help,” Hynes said.

According to the DA’s office, the Assaults Against EMTs and Paramedics initiative would assign these assault cases to an Assistant District Attorney in the Investigations Bureau, who would review and prosecute the cases.

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