Paramedic slashed in ‘targeted attack’
AN off-duty paramedic has been slashed with a knife in front of her children in a targeted attack at Rosebud.
The mother-of-two was buckling her young daughters into their car seats near the Nepean Highway when a man reached into the car and stabbed her on Friday night.
"He went for my neck but I managed to get his arm down which is why it hit me in the chest (causing a) 15cm laceration," the shaken victim told 3AW.
"I feel scared, I feel shocked, I feel disappointed, I have a lot of emotions running at the moment."
Ambulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker said the "horrendous attack" was beyond belief.
"Thank goodness it hasn't gone deeper than a superficial wound, it was a few centimetres away from being life ending," he told 3AW.
"You think you've seen the worst of things … it's pretty horrendous and for that to happen in front of her kids is absolutely abhorrent."
Mr Walker said he believed the attack was targeted as the victim was in uniform at the time.
The victim had just picked up fish and chips for her daughters, aged four and six, when the assault occurred.
"I felt somebody come up from behind me and push me up against the car, put their arm over my shoulder and around my neck," she said.
"I thought it was a friend hugging me to start with, then when I realised their hand was trying to find my neck I pulled my arm down and looked up - that's when they got me.
"My question was 'why, why would you do this?' Then I started screaming and they ran off."
Police arrested a 47-year-old man, of no fixed address, but had not laid charges on Monday.
Mr Walker said paramedics should consider not wearing their uniforms when off duty.
"It's getting to that point … this has highlighted the risk and it's something we need to talk to staff and the unions about," he said.
The ambulance union condemned the attack and called for behavioural change.
United Voice ambulance secretary Danny Hill said the incident had "sent shockwaves through the ambulance family."
"It's the call no union official wants to get, but sadly given the assaults on paramedics tending to escalate, it's a call you expect to get," he said.
Mr Hill dismissed the suggestion that paramedics avoid wearing uniforms when off duty.
"The problem is with the individual who chooses to attack us - we're proud to be in our uniform," he said.
And he praised the response from Ambulance Victoria management and the victim's colleagues, who rallied behind her over the weekend.
"People have been offering to give up leave so she could take as much time as she needed," Mr Hill said.
A spokesman for Health Minister Jill Hennessy said "paramedics are not punching bags".
"Our paramedics do a wonderful job saving the lives of Victorians and it's never okay that they're attacked … our thoughts are with the mother, her children and their family at this difficult time," he said.
The assault is the latest in a string of attacks on paramedics this year.
The Andrews Government has moved to crack down on thugs who assault emergency service workers, introducing mandatory jail time for offenders.
But Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto said the reforms did not go far enough and condemned a "culture of no consequences".
"Attacks on our hardworking paramedics and other emergency workers are now far too common and need to be met with the full force of the law," he said.