Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Alcohol has a massive impact on my job as a paramedic in Glasgow, it’s kind of throughout everything that we do. Every demographic of society that we deal with in Glasgow, alcohol affects in some kind of way.

Whether that’s your teenagers and young people out at the weekends drinking to excess until they pass out and collapse or do something silly and fall off bridges, or whether it's drunk drivers causing crashes on the M8.  Punch ups, broken jaws, stabbings, you name it.

Teenage girls who get very, very vulnerable, that's one that scares me a lot. We pick up a lot of teenage girls who drink themselves into oblivion, we find them in the city centre and sometimes don’t find them in time before they are abused.

You've got your chronic alcoholics who we deal with and we’ve got some what we call “regular customers” that we see every single day sometimes twice, three times a day and these are just people who drink and that's all they do. They’ll drink until they pass out, they’ll go to hospital and sober up then they’ll come out and do the exact same thing again. Slowly they’ll develop very chronic conditions that they start to need proper medical treatment for.

When I joined the ambulance service I don't think I realised just how much abuse paramedics and ambulance staff take.

I get sworn at and shouted at on a frequent basis, every day I think. I've been spat on full in the face, I've had knives pulled out on me on more than one occasion, I’ve had people trying to punch me. It’s relentless. It's not just that, it's the verbal stuff as well, it's the swearing at you, it's the derogatory remarks and, being a girl, it's the sexism.

Alcohol also impacts my job in that I'm less available - if your granny has a heart attack, chances are there's probably another three ambulances somewhere out dealing with something to do with alcohol and might not necessarily be available for things that you would classify as actual emergencies.

Alcohol I think is a lot more dangerous than any drug that’s out there.