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Express & Star comment: Tough law can protect 999 crews

By Star Comment | Wednesbury | Opinions | Published:

The chaos caused by a burst water main on a quiet residential street in Wednesbury was quite astonishing.

Firefighters making searches of cars during the Wednesbury flood

By the time it was fixed, it is estimated that around six Olympic-sized swimming pools of water were released into Leabrook Road North.

Surrounding roads also became submerged in water, with more than a dozen cars underwater when the flooding was at its worst.

It is at times such as this that communities need to come together to help each other out.

But sadly there have been numerous reports of poor behaviour as our emergency services battled to clear up the scene.

West Midlands Fire Service says that their efforts were hindered by youngsters throwing stones in the water, although some residents insist that firefighters were being targeted.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police say they have received reports of youths attempting to break into cars. This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable.

The emergency services do a wonderful job in keeping us safe and helping communities in times of need.

And as anyone who has seen the images of the flooding in Wednesbury will attest, this was certainly one of those times.

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Let us not forget that when they arrived at the scene, it was not known whether people were trapped and in danger.

It is time for a new law to protect firefighters and paramedics. We see too many instances where they come under attack while they are at work. A bill is currently going through Parliament that if passed, will give greater protection.

Sadly the lack of protection for these brave staff means that many of them have now started to consider it a normal part of their roles.

At the moment the penalty is six months in prison, but the new law could see that rise to 24 months.

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The bill aims to introduce new offences including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault aggravated when carried out against members of the emergency services.

This includes police, firefighters, doctors, paramedics, nurses and people assisting them in their duties.

Such a law is long overdue.

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