Paramedics throwing weight behind bill aiming to imprison people for assaulting first responders

Paramedics say being punched and abused on the job is becoming the norm.

They are throwing their weight behind a New Zealand First member's bill which aims to introduce mandatory prison sentences for assaults on frontline emergency services and prison staff. 

Last year more than 950 St John ambulance officers were physically assaulted while working.

In front of Parliament's justice committee, a Nelson Bays paramedic detailed her personal account of being punched and kicked while responding to a 111 call. 

The assault was unexpected, it was unprovoked," Aleisha Hart said. "It was intentional and deliberate."

Hart's attacker pleaded guilty in court and received a fine. The bill's sponsor says imposing minimum jail sentences could deter would-be attackers. 

But nurses are disappointed they've been left out of the bill - saying they're attacked on a daily basis. 

A report released on Monday highlights that violence detailing an attack on four nurses at Hutt Hospital in 2018, where a drunk patient hit one nurse in the neck with a table and punched three others in the face.

NZ First's Darroch Ball said he's open to nurses being added to the bill, and will look closely at all submissions through the select committee process. 

"We are drawing a line in the sand," he said. "No longer will we put up with assaults on those who are sacrificing everything to protect us."