Traffic Constable David Minto couldn’t work for six months due to fractures and extensive ligament damage to his lower leg.
TC Minto is one of dozens of North Yorkshire’s emergency services workers who have been seriously injured in the line of duty.
North Yorkshire Police figures show that in the last month, 36 arrests have been made following assaults on emergency service personnel – an average of more than one a day.
They include punches, kicks, biting, assaults with a weapon and spitting.
Over the past six months, the number recorded in the county has risen by 45 per cent compared to the same period last year.
They include assaults on police, fire and ambulance employees.
TC Minto was attending a report of anti-social behaviour when his attacker intervened and became aggressive.
A tussle followed, and he grappled TC Minto to the floor, twisting his leg.
“As soon as I went down I knew straight away that my ankle was done in,” said TC Minto.
“The initial pain was overwhelming.
"The first ten or 15 seconds, everything went dark.
After a while, I managed to crawl from the road to the path.”
As he crawled to safety, other officers arrested his attacker, who was recently sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
TC Minto, who works in the Roads Policing Group, was taken to hospital where he was treated for a complicated ankle fracture with extensive ligament damage, which had to be pinned.
A gruelling recovery period saw hom spending one-and-a-half months on crutches with his leg in plaster, then the same time again in a supportive leg brace.
“It was frustrating to not be able to contribute at home, or even move around the house properly,” he said.
“I missed out on things I should have been doing with my son and with my family.
"It’s time that I can never get back. You feel a bit cheated.”
The incident took place on July 31, 2019 and TC Minto finally returned to work in January 2020, although he was on restricted duties until April 2020.
“It has a psychological impact on you as well as a physical one,” TC Minto said.
“But you’ve got to get back to work and get on with it. The support returning to work has been great.
“Ultimately, my passion is road safety. I come into work to keep people safe.
"You’re aware that you can go home having potentially saved someone’s life. Most people you deal with are decent people.
“But I think there is a mindset among some of the public that police officers have to take the risks, and that’s just part of the job.
"And a lot of other people don’t even see the risks that police officers have to take.”
Last summer, North Yorkshire Police highlighted the rise in attacks on emergency personnel, revealing there was a 60 per cent increase in the first few months of lockdown.
North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “The attack against TC Minto was deplorable, and although he has now returned to the front line after a long period of recovery, the impact on him and his family as a result of this assault was immeasurable.
“I have been saddened to see such a shocking rise in assaults over the last year.
"TC Minto, along with all the officers and staff across North Yorkshire Police go to work each day to protect the public and to serve the communities of North Yorkshire, and any assault against them is unacceptable.”
The Crown Prosecution Service recently revealed that assaults against emergency service workers is the most common form of coronavirus-related crime.
Of the 6,500 prosecutions that were specifically categorised as coronavirus-related between the beginning of April and end of September last year, 1,688 involved assaults on emergency services workers, according to official data.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police Federation, which looks after the welfare of officers in the county, said: "Officers come to work to protect the vulnerable and safeguard our communities and should be allowed to carry out this role without the fear of being assaulted or abused.
“The experience of TC Minto brings into focus what can happen to officers when just trying to do their job – not only the physical injuries but how this affects the mental wellbeing and the long-term recovery process that takes place before returning to work. This can stay with officers throughout their careers."
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