Emergency services deserve support

The ordeal described yesterday by a firefighter, who was attacked by youths armed with baseball bats and iron bars while attending what should have been a routine call-out in north Belfast, was horrific in every respect.

Noel McKee (48) explained how he and a female colleague were the victims of an unprovoked assault as they attempted to deal with a car which had been set on fire in the New Lodge area of the city one night earlier this month.

Mr McKee said that two young men appeared out of the darkness, shouted threats and and began to hurl masonry and bricks at the fire crew before running up and lashing out with baseball bats.

He was saved from serious injury by his protective clothing but his colleague was not so fortunate and will be off work for some weeks after she needed to be treated in an A&E department for bruising to her arms and ribs.

Mr McKee, who to his great credit reported back to his station again the following day, said that, while only a handful of individuals behaved in such an appalling way, the number of incidents appeared to have been increasing recently.

It is important for everyone connected to our emergency services to know that they have the full support of all right-thinking citizens as they go about their essential and often dangerous duties.

When a runner collapsed while taking part in the Belfast Half Marathon on Sunday, the response was both professional and immediate and may well have helped to save his life.

Volunteers rushed to his assistance, a woman police officer supervised the operation and he was eventually taken to hospital by ambulance after a sustained team effort which one witness said was nothing short of heroic.

As all our ambulance staff, firefighters and police officers carry out their demanding shifts every day, they need to be aware that their commitment is strongly appreciated across the community.