Burlington nurses, first responders complain of increased assaults on the job

UVMMC nurses, techs gather in Emergency Room lobby – VFNHP photo

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. 

Categories: Burlington

7 replies »

  1. This is what happens when you refuse to prosecute criminals. They keep doing criminal things.

    This is what happens when you open borders and allow drugs freely into the country. People become drug addicts.


    Wait till the people find out about the jab.

  2. The general sense of anarchy which is still simmering from the “summer of George Floyd” is manifesting itself in this attitude toward first responders. It has been allowed to go on for so long because many consider it in the name of “social justice”. Just what the hell does looting a shoestore or vandalizing a firetruck have to do with social justice? As quoted and implied in the article, repeat offenders with mental issues are the problem here. ANYONE who impedes or assaults a first responder or medical professional doing their job needs to be locked up…either in jail or a psychiatric facility. This is a Sarah George problem and we have the opportunity to remedy it on November 8.

    • The problem is that most of the folks on this site who comment won’t take the time or the energy to take their often-excellent writing skills and pen a letter to their local or regional newspaper and making CERTAIN (by contacting the publishers if need be) it gets printed.

      The fact is that I bet if we randomly queried 300 Vermonters of various demographics and asked them if they ever heard of Sarah George and/or who she is – less than 10% would respond correctly. And THAT is exactly how democRATS like it!

      PLEASE write what you know to publications all across VT & demand YOUR free speech be heard in their “FREE” press!!! This State is in dire straits.

  3. This is the direct result of the lawless, chaotic, violent culture Vermont has created by VOTING in prosecutors (often funded by George Soros) who believe the victims are the wrong doers & DESERVE such abuse, whilst the criminals who are doing the assaulting deserve to be doing so without punishment, as they are the “true victims”. How revolting!

    Nurses & doctors and every single medical professional in VT and across this USA deserve the utmost respect and safe environs for the services they afford us.

    STOP this INSANITY!!! Vote for Conservatives & Republicans NOW —– Or we will each be relocating to red states as once beautiful & safe Vermont turns into the hellhole these leftists want.

  4. I agree with a ll the prior comments here and would add this: The state made some terrible decisions years ago that are coming home to roost. One was the decision to close the state hospital. The result is that the ED in Burlington is overwhelmed with mental health patients and can’t serve medical health patients. Now our government forces the hospital to maintain policies that use up resources that could be directed toward other things (like one-on-one supervision for those coming in for mental/emotional issues). People struggling with genuine mental health are now “housed” in rooms at the ED because they have no other place to go. Sometimes for WEEKS. The other decision is an ongoing one. Increasing capacity for drug rehab has been completely ignored. Maple Leaf farm closed with NO PLAN to replace those beds. We do nothing about our drug trade here in Vermont and then do nothing to deal with the fallout and here we are.

    • Excellent reminder…..that was done in most states and in the guise of “protecting their civil rights”. I wonder if getting punched in the face or kicked whilst pregnant by these people now violates anyone’s civil rights????

      Why……in fact….I believe it does!!!

  5. I have been a nurse for almost 50 years. This has been an ongoing issue in Vermont,that is being made worse by the lack of mental health beds, homelessness and drug abuse.Thus, the nursing shortage. It has been made worse since the pandemic and lawlessness of BLM and the summer of hell. It is also much worse due to the criminal element and the lack of arresting powers that police are not given in order to do their jobs.
    Assaults of nurses, doctors and ancillary staff is NOT something new. It has always been the ” they are sick and not mentally competent” attitude and the inabiity to sue those patients that bring harm to our staff. THAT is no longer the csae in some states. It should be a felony to assault healthcare workers, period. Many of the isues are not the patients themselves but the out of control families.
    One of the worse things is telling the injured nurse that they still HAVE to take care of the patient.
    I have worked in several other states during my career. In California we had a police substation on camus in the back of the OR. They came for EVERY trauma call and wild patient and/or family member. They never allowed any of us to be alone in any potentially abusive situation. We had prisoners, homeless, gangs and gang members, severely mentally distubed people, and drug addicts. Unfortunately, this is the norm these days in order to keep us safe. UVM Medical Center needs to wake up and change their attitude.
    Waterbury State Hopital should have never been forced to close, and Maple Leaf Farm should have NEVER been made to take people outside of their area of expertise. The pandemic made sobriety very difficult. For a period of time there were absolutely NO NA, or AA meetings. Many of the older flks do NOT want to be on a zoom meeting ( which were not available for some time) and need to get their support in person. If these things had not happened,maybe there would be fewer healthcare members being assaulted, and they would feel much safer going to work.

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