Big football crowds, as well as the carnival season or events such as the New Year celebrations, regularly trigger debate about an important topic that is leading to increasingly stringent calls in the media, both in Germany and elsewhere, to stop violence against the emergency services! The question is: apart from offering even more training to crews, what can be done to ensure better protection for them? In England, in the United Kingdom, where the phenomenon of attacks against emergency crews was addressed earlier than in other European countries, the emergency services are already enjoying legislative support in equipping their vehicles.
It is striking to note that almost all English ambulances have CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) systems installed on a permanent basis in the patient area. The cameras in English ambulances record everything in and around the vehicle in a constant loop, 24 hours a day, and store it on a hard disc that is overwritten after 48 hours. In addition, panic strips are provided, which paramedics can press in an emergency situation, while there is also a public address system that informs any threatening individuals that everything from now on, and from thirty seconds beforehand, is being recorded and saved separately, so that it can be used in court. The system is, therefore, built around deterrence and protecting crews in advance of any incident. Alongside the interior cameras, many ambulances also feature external cameras on all sides of the vehicles, and the recordings are admissible as evidence (whether to prove or disprove an allegation) and in the event of an accident. Telemetry is also very widely used in England and, in some areas, entire fleets are equipped with telemetry systems. As such, the control room can collect all data gathered by the vehicle as well as locating its position at any time, seeing when attacks occur in real time and enabling protective measures to be taken.
Undoubtedly, the pros and cons of video surveillance must be weighed up and the country-specific legislative landscape taken into account. It is, however, foreseeable that not all measures that have been accepted by permanently employed English crews, would be as widely welcomed by crews in other countries. The existing readiness to commit acts of violence against emergency service workers, however, has created a factual backdrop and led to situations that could quickly trigger a debate about effective measures. It therefore appears meaningful at this stage to consider suitable measures before everyday events lead to sacrifices that cannot be undone at a later stage. It is also important to ensure that factors affecting recruitment of the next generation of workers are not overlooked: how convincing can the arguments to attract the next generation be, if we shrug our shoulders when it comes to questions of protecting crews in action?