Patient goes bonkers, attacks medics

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Philadelphia Fire Department personnel along Erie Ave between 19th and 20th streets where an alleged assault took place with medics after an accident along Roosevelt Boulevard. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

It started as a routine run: An ambulance dispatched to ferry a seriously injured car-accident victim to the hospital.

But the trip quickly became extraordinary: The patient assaulted two paramedics and tried to steal the ambulance before police officers responding to the medics' call for help Tasered the patient to regain control, said Frank Keel, a spokesman for the firefighters' union, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22.

The incident happened about 5:30 a.m. this morning on Erie Avenue near 19th in Tioga, Keel said.

It started when a car hit a pedestrian on Roosevelt Boulevard, leaving him seriously injured. Paramedics responded, but the patient soon began attacking them, Keel said. He allegedly chased one medic out of the ambulance and down the street and threw an oxygen bottle out of the ambulance window, Keel said. He then jumped into the driver's seat and tried to drive away, but firefighters dragged him out of the ambulance, where he was Tasered by police and eventually subdued, Keel added.

Police and fire spokespeople had few details but confirmed the incident occurred. The two paramedics suffered minor injuries and were treated at Temple University Hospital and released. The patient remains hospitalized at Temple in critical condition, police spokeswoman Office Tanya Little said. He faces criminal charges in the assault.

Union president Bill Gault said: "The chaotic early morning incident at 19th and Erie that began with an emergency response to a car accident demonstrates the dangers our union brothers and sisters face daily in the city of Philadelphia. It appears that our paramedics will be alright. Were it not for their quick thinking, valor and training, the situation could have been much worse. This criminal matter is now in the hands of the police department."

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