EMTs, paramedics filing more assault reports, pushing for more strict prosecutions

CARLISLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. - Some EMS providers are pushing for more strict prosecutions for people who assault them. The assaults are felonies, but they say most of the time the charges are downgraded to misdemeanors or summary offenses.

"We've been slapped, punched, kicked," said Assistant Chief Nathan Harig with Cumberland Goodwill EMS.

Assault reports, which carry felony level charges are being filed more often by EMTs and paramedics. Cumberland Goodwill EMS sees assault reports filed every two to three weeks. Susquehanna Township EMS has filed five in the last month.

Harig, and Susquehanna Township EMS Captain Daniel Tempel say, these reports are not to punish those who become violent during medical episodes, but rather those under the influence.

"You get a DUI if you're drunk and intoxicated," said Tempel. "Why's it any different if you assault an EMS provider or police officer or firefighter."

The assault charges, Harig and Tempel say are almost always downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors or summary offenses.

"If they're not being prosecuted for them," said Tempel. "Then there's not really prevention for them to continue to happen."

The Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association tells FOX43:

The factual circumstances of each case are different and decisions on the grading of those crimes (felony, misdemeanor or summary) must necessarily be based on the specific circumstances of the case.

Cumberland Goodwill EMS has taken some measures in their own hands to avoid assaults. They're added signs to all their emergency vehicles reminding people it's a felony to assault a first responder. Which Harig says, since the signs have been installed, about two weeks ago, they haven't had to file any assault reports.

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