When a West Midlands Ambulance Service crew arrived at the scene of an emergency callout, their number one priority was assisting the person in need. So when they found an abusive note attached to their vehicle, it left them outraged.
In February 2018 the ambulance crew were attending an incident in Tunstall, Staffordshire. A resident of Parsonage Street called Brian Heath had dialed the emergency services after his wife Christine started struggling to breathe.
Mrs. Heath had taken ill the night before with a sore throat. However, by the next morning her condition had worsened. As a result, the elderly couple wasted no time in calling an ambulance.
When paramedics arrived on the scene, they tried to reassure Mr. and Mrs. Heath that they’d do all they could. “They said don’t worry, let’s get your wife sorted out,” Mr. Heath said, recalling the crew’s words in an interview with the Daily Mail in February 2018.
However, as ambulance staff worked away, little did they know that they had ruffled some feathers on the street outside. It appeared the presence of their vehicle had annoyed the Heaths’ nextdoor neighbor, Kirsty Sharman.
The first paramedics knew of Sharman’s discontent was when one crew member found himself victim to her verbal abuse. But with Mrs. Heath’s health hanging in the balance, the man ignored Sharman and carried on with the task at hand.
But as the crew worked away, they had no idea that Sharman had also written an abusive letter and pinned it to their ambulance using a wiper. However, when they learned of the unkind note, they were outraged.
Sharman’s merciless message read, “If this van is for anyone but No. 14 then you have no right to park here. I couldn’t give a s*** if the whole street collapses. Now move your van from outside my house.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. The note later got a wider audience when one of the crew’s colleagues shared a photograph of it on Twitter. Alongside the snap, paramedic Katie Tudor wrote, “So upset to be sent this by one of our crews this morning.”
Revealing more details of the incident, Tudor added, “Along with this note left on their ambulance, they received a load of verbal abuse! They weren’t blocking the road, they were in a parking space… just obviously annoying someone that an ambo was outside their property.”
Clearly at the end of her tether, Tudor also tagged the Staffordshire Police. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to see if there was any way cops could help them. “Is there anything that can be done about this?” she asked. “It’s becoming a regular occurrence.”
And the police were receptive to Tudor’s enquiry. CI John Owen said, “Officers are in the process of speaking to our @OFFICIALWMAS colleagues to obtain the full details from the crews at the scene. It’s important that those working to save lives feel safe in the course of their duty.”
And that wasn’t all the police did after Tudor’s note because in due course, they arrested Sharman. Later, she appeared in court charged with a Section 5 Public Order offense and breaching an existing restraining order that had aimed to prevent her from contacting the Heaths.
Over the course of Sharman’s court appearance, it emerged there had been “ongoing difficulties” between the nextdoor neighbors since Sharman moved into her house in September 2016. The tensions culminated in the restraining order in January 2018. However, they apparently boiled over when the ambulance arrived outside the Heaths’.
In court, Sharman pleaded guilty to the public order offense. However, the prosecution withdrew the charge relating to the restraining order. As a result, a judge ordered her a £30 ($42) victim surcharge and £135 ($188) costs.
Through her attorney, Sharman extended her “most sincere apologies to the ambulance staff.” In a statement from her defendant, the attorney, Hayley Keegan, added, “She accepts her behaviour was completely unacceptable.”
Keegan added, “She does not seek to minimize or make any excuses. She is sorry for what she has done. She has accepted she did write that note. The section 5 public order is purely as a result of her abusive language towards the staff when they were trying to do their job.”
After Sharman’s court appearance, Mr. Heath revealed that his wife was still recovering from her health scare. Doctors at Royal Stoke Hospital were treating her for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition that can cause breathing difficulties.
Meanwhile, in a statement obtained by the BBC in February 2018, an ambulance service spokesperson said, “We hope that this case will serve as a warning to others that abusing our staff is not acceptable. Our staff will only block roads or park in front of drives if absolutely necessary in the interests of patient care.”
Staffordshire Police Chief Inspector John Owen agreed that Sharman’s fate should come as a warning to others. “This type of behavior cannot be tolerated,” he told the Daily Mail. “Paramedics are there to help those in absolute need, and for them to feel threatened or intimidated whilst potentially saving a life is just not acceptable.”