Ipswich: Shock facts behind 999 calls to schools

AMBULANCE crews have been called to schools across Ipswich to deal with child birth, suicide attempts, stabbings and sexual assaults, an Ipswich Star investigation has discovered.

Paramedics were dispatched to treat pupils and staff on more than 730 occasions since 2007, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Traffic accidents, animal attacks, heat and cold exposure and burns are among the reasons for call-outs to primary and high schools.

The East of England Ambulance Service categorised two incidents – one which took place this year – as “stab/gunshot”.

One union leader described the revelations as “shocking”.

Graham White, secretary of the National Union of Teachers in Suffolk, said he was particularly concerned by the nature of a number of the incidents.

“It worries me that assaults and sexual assaults are among the call-outs,” he said.

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Between 2007 and the end of July 2012, the ambulance service responded to 115 instances of convulsions or fittings, 23 instances of overdose or poisoning and one cardiac arrest

A further 11 call-outs were classed as assaults or sexual assaults, while suicides and psychiatric problems accounted for seven call-outs during the period.

Mr White said: “I find the statistics shocking. Ambulances are always going to be called out to schools for accidents in PE and for when someone falls over – but these serious incidents are shocking.

“With the assaults, possible violence and sexual assaults, it is very concerning. Teachers are in a difficult situation because they can’t administer medicine when someone is ill and sometimes the only option is to call the ambulance service. Maybe if there were more nurses in our schools the amount of calls would be less.”

In 2007, schools asked for the help of the ambulance service on 105 occasions. In 2008 that figure rose to 125 call-outs.

In 2009 there were 128 calls to schools in Ipswich, while the figure rocketed to 173 call-outs in 2010. In 2011 alone there were a total of 113 call-outs to schools, including three incidents of allergic reaction, 31 falls, two heart complaints, one machinery-related accident and three road traffic collisions.

So far this year, there has been 89 incidents requiring the assistance of paramedics.