ATTACKS on ambulance staff have been condemned as "unacceptable" after it was revealed that employees were assaulted on four occasions last week.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said the assaults were all committed by patients for whom an ambulance had been requested and all required police attendance to arrest the patient or to control the situation.
The first of these attacks happened on June 12, when a male member of NIAS staff had the contents of a soft drinks can thrown in his face and was struck by a female patient.
Last Monday, June 14, a female paramedic attending a call was grabbed by the throat and punched a number of times around the head by a female patient.
The Accident and Emergency crew, which had also been dispatched to the call, arrived a few minutes later and were also subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
The three personnel had to withdraw for their own safety and while they were waiting for the arrival of the police, the patient threw vital ambulance equipment from her house and renewed her attack on the ambulance staff who then had to restrain her.
As a result of this incident, two NIAS staff are currently on sick leave.
Also last Monday night, another crew was assaulted and suffered the effects of CS gas which had to be used to restore calm to the situation.
The fourth incident happened last Wednesday, when a patient became aggressive in the ambulance and a crew member sustained a back injury in his attempts to prevent the patient from harming either of them.
In the wake of these incidents, the NIAS spokesman said: "Attacks on ambulance personnel are unacceptable and have a lasting impact on the staff who are the victims.
He added: "NIAS utterly condemns these assaults on staff who are focused on providing emergency care to those who are in need of our service.
"As an organisation NIAS will support all measures that may be taken to tackle the problem of attacks on healthcare and emergency staff and have been active in the Department of Health led zero tolerance campaign."