The leader of a Swedish Ambulance Driver’s Union has spoken out on the abuse his members experience while attending to emergency call-outs in so-called “No Go Zones” in migrant-populated areas, and has called for his members to have access to “military” defensive equipment to enable them to do their jobs.
Union boss Gordon Grattidge spoke to well respected Swedish journalist Paulina Neuding in an interview for think tank Det Goda Samhället (The Good Society) and discussed ambulances being forced to retreat from no gone zones on a regular basis after coming under attack from “large groups of violent people”.
Saying his members needed police protection, as well as body armour and helmets, Mr. Grattidge described how ambulances frequently came under attack while on the job, remarking: “It’s when we enter hazardous areas and there’s a risk of putting our paramedics in danger.”
Responding to whether he was really “justified” in using the emotive phrase “no go zone”, the ambulance driver said: “I know it’s sensitive and controversial, but for us it’s really a no go because we have directives not to go into dangerous situations. We are also clear about that but sometimes you end up there anyway. In that case, it feels good if you have adequate protection. We are supposed to get personal protection from the police when we enter ‘no-go zones’.”
The union head explained what constitutes a no go zone in Sweden, saying they were “absolutely” majority immigrant neighbourhoods which were highly “segregated”. Despite claims by prominent Swedish politicians in recent days that crime is decreasing and that newly arrived migrants are integrating, the representative of the ambulance service, which sees the front line in Sweden’s housing estates and immigrant neighbourhoods, said: “We see this type of area increasing in number… We receive reports from members, media and other parties. We [have definitely seen] an increase.”
Mr. Grattidge also spoke of the riots ongoing in Rinkeby, the infamous migrant neighbourhood where recently a journalist was attacked. He remarked the riots put his members at greater risk, and described how driving an ambulance to the area can go. He said:
“It’s too dangerous to enter. We can be prevented from entering. We may be blocked from getting out. Vehicles can be sabotaged at the site. We can be exposed to physical violence. In seconds it can turn to attacks on our vehicles or against us personally… It can be stone throwing and even worse. Hand grenades have been thrown at police so that is a great concern.”
He added these violent incidents were taking their toll on the ambulance service with members experiencing post-traumatic stress after attacks, higher rates of sick-leave, and members leaving their jobs.
This is not the first time the union boss has spoken out about the safety of his members in violent neighbourhoods. Talking to Swedish newspaper Expressen in January, Grattidge called for the sale of fireworks to be regulated, saying that those who fire fireworks at ambulances and paramedics were actually undertaking “an attack on our democracy”.
Slamming the authorities and their failure to react, Grattidge wrote: “The government has shown itself completely unable to act as emergency preparedness in the community deteriorates.”
The security situation in Sweden has been in the global attention in recent weeks after U.S. President Donald J. Trump made reference to the effects of mass migration in the country. Although he was attacked for the comments, they were immediately followed by rioting in migrant-suburb Rinkeby.
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