Time to mind those who mind us

They say that tyranny and anarchy are never far apart. Especially if we continue to turn a blind eye to the growing trend of the acceptability of grievous assaults on our emergency services.

It is only a few short years since front line workers were being rightly lauded for the actions they took to ensure that society could operate in unfamiliar times. When the hospitals were out of bounds, when we were advised to isolate, they played a key role in keeping society operating.

Yet, now it seems there is a greater tolerance of them taking a few slaps; we dismiss it as if it is a quirk of the job, but it should not be. And if it does happen, the punishments should be severe to act as a deterrent.

In 2021, staff working in community healthcare organisations (CHO ) in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon made 3,409 assault reports, with 3,357 of those on nurses and 52 on doctors.

Firemen routinely report being pelted with items when they go to fight blazes and save lives. Gardai run the gauntlet on a daily basis.

Assaults include physical, verbal or sexual attacks on staff, while incidents are categorised into harmful, not harmful, near misses, dangerous occurrences or complaints.

Saolta University Health Care Group recorded 862, while University of Limerick hospitals reported 635.

More than 21,000 frontline staff working in community healthcare organisations – which include primary care, social care and mental health services – also reported assaults.

These are the people that we are asking to go out and care for us. To protect us from harm, to rescue us when we need help; to hold our hands when we are at our most vulnerable.

In the last few weeks, there have been several serious assaults on gardai and members of the emergency services. The almost glee with which videos of these assaults were reported on social media shows the just below the surface anarchy that resides out there. Or it might be bravado from keyboard warriors.

Nonetheless, if we are to prevent society from disintegrating, we need to ensure that there is enhanced respect for those who risk their lives so we can live ours.

It starts with schools and education, but also in each of our homes. Unless we restore the respect for those who mind us, we are all on the slippery slope.


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