Indianapolis EMS responds after hijacked ambulance: ‘It’s not OK to be assaulted’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An ambulance was carjacked Thursday morning and taken on a ride on I-65, but that wasn’t the start of this dangerous crime.

It all began when the suspect came upon a car crash on I-70 near Harding. Police say the suspect pulled a gun on that driver and stole the car. Then police say the suspect crashed that stolen car on I-65 at West Street. That’s when the suspect flagged down a passing ambulance. When paramedics stopped, police say the armed suspect hijacked the ambulance.

It happens more than you think.

“It’s not OK to be assaulted. You don’t have to tolerate it,” said Michael Hayward, the chief of operations for Indianapolis EMS.

Hayward says his crews are met with verbal and physical assault almost every other day.

“It is a crime and it should be punished,” he said.

Thursday morning, paramedics were just trying to help when an armed suspect stole their ambulance. In June 2015, a patient being transported to the hospital stole an ambulance and took police on a chase. Hayward says although these situations happened a few years apart, they have to train for it.

“A part of that academy is a few days’ worth of defensive tactics training,” explained Hayward, “Which has a little bit of physical self-defense techniques involved, but it’s heavily geared towards de-escalation techniques.”

That’s to avoid the problem before it escalates.

“The ways they can speak to them and actually address them in ways that calms their anxiety lets them know – we’re not there as the threat to them we’re there to help and serve them and see to their needs,” added Hayward.

In Thursday’s case the paramedics knew not to fight and got out of the dangerous situation.

“There’s no truck or piece of equipment that we own that is more important than the lives of our providers. And we try to make sure they are aware of that,” said Hayward.

There’s been a greater push over recent years towards prosecuting those who assault EMTs. With a history of enduring violence during response calls, he says incidents like this shouldn’t be something they have to tolerate.

“Please see us as an ally and not an adversary,” said Hayward.

Thankfully, no one was hurt Thursday morning. We’re still waiting to learn from police who did this and the charges the suspect will face. Police are also investigating if drugs or alcohol were involved.

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