PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A patient assaulted and chased down an ambulance crew as they attempted to transport him during an apparent mental health crisis on Thursday morning, according to officials.
The situation unfolded shortly before 8 a.m. on Southwest Pacific Highway and Canterbury Lane, Tigard police stated, significantly delaying traffic in the area. The patient is said to have unbuckled himself in the back of the ambulance before allegedly attacking the Metro West crew.
According to police, the man began by hitting the paramedic in the head and neck. The EMT that was driving stopped the ambulance and attempted to pull the patient off the paramedic, but said the patient pushed backward and began assaulting the EMT in the chest and throat.
“That is a concern, I think, when it comes to society right, it’s one of those big questions no one really has the winning answer to,” said Kelsey Anderson of Tigard Police.
When the EMT escaped the ambulance, police say the patient chased him down Highway 99W with a rock.
Once officers arrived, they say they found the man still chasing the EMT on the side of the highway near Southwest Beef Bend Road. Police intervened and restrained the patient, who was sent to the hospital again in a different ambulance – this time with a Tigard officer to ensure everyone’s safety.
“We really wanted to make sure we could get in there as quickly as possible, and that’s why we used less-lethal to be able to intervene,” Anderson said. “We now have something that uses a hard-packed foam so we utilized that, it’s called a 40mm, and then also a taser.”
The man was cited for two counts of assault, and the EMT was taken to the hospital for an evaluation.
Police thanked commuters who were affected by traffic delays during the incident.
“We know there were a lot of people who were on their way to work or school yesterday morning and saw this unfolding on the side of the road. It is a scary thing to see a lot of police officers responding when you don’t know what’s going on,” Anderson said. “But we just want to make sure everyone knows there was a person in a mental health crisis, and we were working to get that person the help that they needed.”
In the past year, American Medical Response has also reported first responders assaulted on the job. Tigard police say they have seen an increase in mental health crises and scenes can quickly become dynamic.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.