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Dog attacks keep paramedics busy
6:50pm Monday 21st January 2013 in News
PARAMEDICS were called out 37 times to bites by dogs and other animals last year with babies and young children among the victims needing treatment.
The attacks in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett included three savage maulings by dogs, the most recent of which left a three-year-old girl needing to be airlifted to hospital in November.
Five ambulance crews attended the incident, information obtained by the Adver shows.
The attack is understood to be one of two in Park South last year.
Two-year-old Keiron Guess also suffered serious facial injuries after being savaged by a Staffordshire bull terrier in June. He underwent 10 hours of surgery to reconstruct his face following the attack by a neighbour’s pet in Moredon.
But the figures show the three incidents were just the tip of the iceberg.
In total, seven victims of animal bites in 2012 were aged under five.
In February a baby boy and a one-year-old girl required treatment at the scene for their injuries in attacks which took place at different locations just two weeks apart.
In April a four-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy needed to be transported to hospital.
A two-year-old boy needed to be taken to hospital in June after receiving treatment from four ambulance crews.
And in October, a baby boy was treated at the scene by an ambulance crew.
Most of the attacks were recorded as taking place on residential streets but one bite, which led to a five-year-old boy needing to be taken to hospital in September, took place at a primary school, with five ambulance crews coming to the child’s aid.
The oldest victim was a 63-year-old woman who needed to be transported to hospital after suffering an injury in January. Two of the attacks were recorded in Toothill while another took place in Lydiard Tregoze, where a 12-year-old girl also needed to be taken to hospital. Two more incidents took place in Royal Wootton Bassett.
In 2011 paramedics responded to 35 attacks, with victims ranging from babies to an 85-year-old woman. Seven casualties were aged under five.
The year before ambulance crews were called out to 39 victims between the same ages.
The figures were released by the Great Western Ambulance Service under the Freedom of Information Act.
The service said it could not provide information on what kind of animal caused each injury, but concern has mounted over the prevalence of dangerous dogs across the country after a string of attacks on children in recent years.
“There’s a worrying trend of children being attacked and disfigured as a result of attacks by dogs,” he said.
“It’s not just a question of being vigilant, it’s about hammering home the message that owners need to be responsible for their animals. We are a nation of animal lovers but at the same time there are people who are not living up to their responsibilities.”
A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “While animal attacks are fortunately quite rare, they are inevitably very distressing for the patient and those with them, particularly if young children are involved. Therefore, our priority is to ensure we get the right help to patients as quickly as possible, while maintaining the safety of our own staff in what is often a chaotic situation.
“Important information to gather during the 999 call is whether the animal is still in the vicinity – this helps crews be better prepared to assess and treat the patient on arrival.”