Vicious attack on paramedic who was just trying to help
There were calls today for zero tolerance of violence against ambulance staff after a paramedic was viciously beaten by a patient in Co Antrim.
The attack which happened on Sunday was the third brutal assault on ambulance staff in the past month.
The paramedic was struck in the neck across the windpipe and then repeatedly beaten about the head, chest and abdomen. He has been forced to go off duty and is not expected to return to work for some time.
The attack also resulted in ambulance cover being withdrawn from the Causeway area for up to eight hours overnight because of damage to a stretcher.
It is understood the crew were responding to a call of a man who had self-inflicted injuries to his wrists.
While being taken to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine the patient became abusive and threatening and then launched an attack on the paramedic.
The ambulance was forced to divert to Ballymoney, where police intervened.
A PSNI spokesman confirmed that a 20-year-old man had been cautioned and was then taken to hospital.
In a separate attack earlier this month in Belfast a female paramedic also needed hospital treatment for her injuries.
Brian McNeill, director of operations with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: "These attacks have a serious adverse effect on the victims who only want to be allowed to do their job, which is to provide care to those who are in need of our assistance. It is difficult to believe that any individual can ask for our help, at any time of the day or night, and then attack the very people who respond to that request.
" The potential impact for the community of such actions, and the subsequent depletion of cover, is that response to a life threatening call may be delayed with fatal consequences - someone else might die, due entirely to the actions of people who assault ambulance crews.
"It is time for these attacks to stop."
Albert Mills, regional industrial organiser with ambulance workers union Unite said: "This type of behaviour is unacceptable and there should be a zero-tolerance approach to individuals who attack health staff."