The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is calling for witnesses to come forward after an emergency ambulance was vandalised in the early hours of Wednesday 31 May.
Vandals smashed an emergency ambulance vehicle while it was parked outside a house as the crew were inside treating a patient.
The damage – which included a smashed driver’s side window, broken back window pane and a part of the dashboard ripped out – occurred approximately 3am today in the Hartlepool area.
Electronics from the vehicle – including a radio, a data terminal and a tablet computer – had been ripped from their mountings in the cab of the vehicle and left strewn across the road and pavement nearby.
No-one was hurt in the attack and nothing appeared to be stolen, although an audit of equipment is still being carried out. However, the crew were unable to drive the ambulance after the vandals fled the scene. The patient did not need to go to hospital in this case.
The ambulance is expected to be off the road for three weeks whilst repairs are made to it’s windows, mobile communications equipment, vehicle dashboard, and blue lights, and a full clean to remove broken glass takes place. The total cost of this to the service is estimated to be £2,100.
Shane Woodhouse, head of operations, said: “Vandalising an emergency ambulance is wholly unacceptable and the damage caused might have had more immediate and serious consequences if our crew had needed to take the patient to hospital.
“Thankfully the patient did not need to be taken to hospital, but their life may have been put at risk because of this mindless attack. Had the patient been in a life-threatening condition, this could have had a very tragic ending.
“The ambulance was clearly parked outside a patient’s house while the crew were inside treating a caller who had rung 999 for help.
“As a result of this incident, the crew were unavailable to respond to any further patients for the rest of their shift, and the vehicle is now off the road for several weeks while we aim to repair the extensive damage.
“The equipment stolen is useless to anyone outside of our organisation. We’ve still to add up the cost of replacing the equipment and repairing the vehicle, but it is likely to be in the thousands of pounds. But this is secondary to the potential harm that could have been caused if the patient had needed to go to hospital quickly.
“We would urge anyone with information about this incident to contact the police or Crimestoppers immediately and help us bring those responsible to justice.”
Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101 quoting 104486. Independent charity, Crimestoppers, can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.