Paramedics have reiterated their support for New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball's bill to impose mandatory prison sentences on those who assault our first responders and prison officers.
There are more than 50 cases of abuse and assault against New Zealand paramedics each week. The figure has remained largely unchanged for the past few years.
In a bid to deter offenders, the Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill, which would create a new offence of injuring a first responder or prison officer with intent, was put forward in Parliament by Mr Ball.
The bill, which would automatically jail people for six months who assault first responders, had its first reading last night.
St John paramedic Lisa Buckingham told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning it's something paramedics "absolutely support". On jobs, Ms Buckingham said she has been punched and had her epaulettes torn off her clothing.
But she counts herself among the lucky ones, as many of her colleagues have been seriously injured while on the job. Ms Buckingham also believes assaults and abuse may have be a factor in some people leaving the profession.
When asked by Breakfast host John Campbell though if a mandatory sentence was the right way, considering people may not be rational in those situations, Ms Buckingham said: "In those circumstances people are angry and they're sad, but that doesn't mean that you lash out at somebody".
"We all get angry, and we understand that some of these are really horrific things that people are going through and seeing their loved ones go through, but assaulting us is not going to change that."