By COLIN STAUB
A driver has been criminally cited for assault for crashing into an American Medical Response ambulance in Portland—intentionally. It’s the latest evidence for what union-represented paramedics have described as growing public hostility toward ambulance workers.
The collision happened July 15 at Southeast 151st Ave. and Powell Blvd., as an AMR ambulance was headed westbound with its lights and siren on responding to a call.
As video shared with the Labor Press shows, vehicles were pulling over to yield to the ambulance, including a late-90s Toyota 4Runner in the oncoming lane. But after pulling over, the 4Runner accelerated and rammed the ambulance as it passed. The AMR driver swerved to avoid the oncoming car, and avoided serious damage or injury.
Police determined that the driver, 51-year-old John Harbour, was having a behavioral health crisis, says Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sergeant Kevin Allen. Harbour was taken to a hospital and placed on a police hold, Allen said, then criminally cited for two counts of assault in the third-degree, reckless driving, recklessly endangering another person and careless driving. Allen said he couldn’t discuss what the suspect said at the scene, by bureau policy, but that the charges indicate there was probable cause the crash was intentional.
Multnomah County AMR paramedic Josh Mikota was in the passenger seat of the ambulance when it was hit.
“I’m sickened by the increasing frequency of violence toward pre-hospital care providers, specifically transport medics,” Mikota told the Labor Press.
Teamsters Local 223 business agent Austin DePaolo said the local shares in members’ frustration over safety concerns.
“We’re doing everything we can to bring this to the attention of the authorities and the courts, and to do whatever we can to prevent future episodes of assault on our members out there in the field,” DePaolo said.
In June, the Labor Press reported that assaults have become a common part of the job for paramedics in the Portland area, creating burnout and stress among workers.
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