By Guy Page
Burlington firefighters and rescue workers are sick of being assaulted on the job. And they’re angry that hospital nurses they work with are victims of assault, too.
That’s the gist of a recent social media statement published by the Burlington Fire Fighters Association (BFFA).
As reported by Vermont Daily Chronicle last week, the BFFA tweeted about assaults on firefighters in the line of duty, a toolbox thrown as a fire truck windshield as it responded to a call, and an attempted theft of a ladder truck parked during a call.
98% of nurses at UVM Medical Center have been verbally assaulted, and 78% have been physically assaulted in the past year, the nurses’ union, the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, claims, according to a WCAX report. Assault incidents at UVMMC went from 15 in 2019 to 32 last year, Burlington police say.
“Our staff have endured strangulation, broken ribs, concussions, contusions, lacerations, permanent hearing loss, jaw fractures, broken noses, broken arms, broken cheekbones, bites, sexual assaults. Threats with weapons including knives, a hatchet and a chainsaw. Verbal threats to our lives, and threats to our loved ones’ lives,” UVMMC RN Amanda Young reportedly told WCAX.
“Once again, enough is enough,” the BFFA tweeted yesterday. “Nurses are the backbone of the Emergency Department and absolutely no one should find this aggression and hostility acceptable.
“How many of you would want to keep going to work if you knew it meant there was a good chance you would be assaulted? The nurses who continue to show up each day to care for patients while their safety is not guaranteed are eventually going to get tired of it and leave, or worse, get hurt to the point they can’t continue to work. What happens then?”
Repeat offenders are a problem, Kevin Blake of the BFFA said. First responders are being asked to do the work of social workers by responding to people in crisis.
“We need these resources in place, we need these services in place, but if they are not in place what is another option because what we are doing is like being in a hamster wheel where we are just cycling through the same people over and over again,” Blake said on WCAX.
Vermont Daily Chronicle this morning emailed State’s Attorney Sarah George and her Democratic primary challenger, Ted Kenney of Williston, soliciting their views about how law enforcement should handle assaults on nurses and first responders. Their responses will be published as received.
The UVMMC nurses’ union is now negotiating a contract with hospital management.