BOSTON (CBS) – As an EMT recovers from a brutal stabbing on the job, several lawmakers are pushing for legislation to make it a felony to attack health care workers in Massachusetts.
State Sen. Mike Brady (D-Brockton) co-sponsored a bill filed earlier this year with Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem) to increase the penalties on anyone who assaults nurses, emergency medical technicians, doctors and other medical workers.
“To me it really sends a dual message – one is to those who would think about assaulting a worker in their capacity, in their job that wont be tolerated,” Tucker said. “Two I think it says to the healthcare workers themselves whether it be nurses, health care providers that we want to make sure that we protect you as well – we have to protect those who protect us.”
One such incident happened Wednesday afternoon in Boston. Two EMTs were taking a woman with psychiatric issues to Massachusetts General Hospital when the woman stabbed an EMT in the body and legs at least seven times. One wound to the abdomen was four inches deep. The EMT was rushed into surgery and is expected to survive.
The woman, 31-year-old Julie Tejeda, also used pepper spray, authorities said, in an attempt to keep the EMT’s partner away after he pulled the ambulance over to help.
Tejada is now charged with assault with intent to murder. She was ordered to have a mental health evaluation at her arraignment Thursday. Dozens of EMTs came to Boston Municipal Court in a massive show of support.
Brady told WBZ-TV Thursday his bill was filed “long before what happened in Boston.”
“I have a lot of nurses who’ve been assaulted on the job and emergency medical technicians who’ve been assaulted that are trying to help save lives out there,” he said. “We’re living in a different world today where, unfortunately, a lot of our public safety personnel aren’t respected like when we were young children. You were always taught by your mother and father to respect public safety personnel.”