POLL: Ambos plead for no casualty ‘dumping’

An Illawarra paramedic has warned revellers to stick by their mates and not treat the ambulance service as a ‘‘dumping ground’’ for intoxicated friends tonight.

Inspector Norman Rees, the Ambulance NSW Wollongong area commander for New Year’s Eve, said too often paramedics were forced to care for drunks who had been abandoned by friends not wanting their night to come to a premature end.

‘‘They’re all out drinking and having a good time, then one starts throwing up. And rather than catering for that, they call an ambulance and then we have duty of care,’’ Insp Rees said.

‘‘Sometimes they get violent towards us because we’re trying to remove them from the area.’’

‘‘We’re all for everyone having a good time but don’t waste the emergency services – have someone looking after you if you’re intoxicated.’’ 

Tonight, police and ambulance officers will be rostered on in higher numbers across the Illawarra to prepare for inevitable party casualties.

Inspector Rees said unfortunately it was not just adults paramedics were forced to treat.

‘‘Belmore Basin is an alcohol-free zone, but intoxicated young kids turn up. So we have to look after them when they pass out or start throwing up,’’ he said. 

‘‘Then we have to get parents to pick them up – we end up being a creche.’’

A veteran of many New Year’s Eve shifts, Inspector Rees said a typical night for paramedics involved treating intoxicated revellers first, then treating those who had been in fights, and finally attending homes for alcohol-related injuries.

But though a New Year’s shift could be frustrating for paramedics, there were also moments of humour, he said. 

‘‘Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s ridiculous. A lot of people are very pleasant – they just aren’t in contact with common sense and do silly things.’’

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Yesterday, the state government released statistics showing there had been a marked decrease in alcohol-related violence in recent years.

Minister for Hospitality George Souris said Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data showed that a ‘‘tailored’ approach to dealing with alcohol throughout the regions was working.

“This government looks at each precinct individually and it has achieved a significant drop in violent incidents across the state,’’ he said.

Between 2008 and 2012, there was a 28per cent drop in violent incidents on licensed premises, 35per cent in alcohol-related assaults on police and 12per cent in alcohol-related domestic assaults, he said. 

The same period also saw a 28per cent drop in alcohol-related non-domestic assaults, and a 9per cent drop in people attending emergency departments for acute alcohol problems.

Meanwhile, Wollongong police operations manager Inspector Jim Fryday said 90 uniformed officers would be deployed to the city area to provide a high-visibility patrol from 2pm today.

Highway patrol officers and transit officers will also be out in force.

Insp Fryday encouraged revellers to ‘‘partake in consumption of alcohol responsibly and enjoy themselves without going overboard’’.

Wollongong’s Belmore Basin is expected to attract between 15,000 and 20,000 people during tonight’s fireworks celebrations at 9pm. Police will also be at regional beaches  to ensure compliance with liquor laws. 

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