No go zone: The 470 addresses around Edinburgh where paramedics need a police escort

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NEARLY 470 addresses in and around Edinburgh have been “red-flagged” by ambulance chiefs as too dangerous for their crews to attend without a police escort.

Conservatives said across Scotland there were a total of 2557 homes where paramedics would not respond to a 999 call without police attendance.

There are a large number of addresses where paramedics fear to go. Picture: Ian Georgeson

There are a large number of addresses where paramedics fear to go. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Addresses are red-flagged if there has been a previous incident there which suggests the ambulance staff could be at risk of violence.

It is understood red-flagging is directed at specific houses or flats and does not involve designating whole streets as “no go” areas.

Figures released following a Freedom of Information request showed 469 addresses with an EH postcode had been red-flagged, the second highest number in Scotland after the 820 addresses in Glasgow which had also been flagged.

But the Scottish Ambulance Service insisted that in any emergency staff would always put saving lives first and crews would make “a sensible decision” depending on the circumstances.

Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Annie Wells said the statistics exposed the challenges which hard-working ambulance staff had to put up with on a daily basis.

And she also called for tougher action from courts on those who assault or intimidate emergency workers.

Under legislation to protect emergency workers, anyone convicted can face up to a year behind bars, a £10,000 fine, or both.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government revealed 6509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016-17, equivalent to more than 17 per day.

Ms Wells said: “It’s well-documented just how vital a role lifesaving ambulance workers play in Scotland.

“So it’s quite shocking to see there are more than 2500 addresses where they can’t safely go about their work.

“No paramedic should ever fear for their own wellbeing, especially when they are dedicating their lives to helping others.

“We clearly need to do more to keep them safe, which means tough action from the courts when those assaulting, or threatening to assault, ambulance workers are caught.

“That’s the least we could do to ensure these brave and indispensable employees can go about their work safely and effectively.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Getting to the sickest patients will always be our priority, regardless of whether the police are in attendance – our staff are trained in assessing risk and managing aggression so that they can make a sensible decision based on the circumstances.

“Our staff should not fear for their safety when working, which is why we have introduced a range of measures to help protect them – individual addresses where staff have previously faced violence or threatening behaviour are automatically flagged to our crews, who can then request additional support, only if required. We keep these individual addresses under review to ensure our system is up-to-date.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com