Two ambulance service staff are “unfit for duty” after a drunken attack by a “six foot plus maniac” in Cookstown in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The crew were attending to an unconscious female patient, whom they had just placed in the back of an ambulance following a call-out at 2.25am, when the incident took place.
After the attack both crew were taken to Antrim Area Hospital. One had suffered head injuries.
A spokesperson for the ambulance service said the man, who was thought to be intoxicated at the time, assaulted one paramedic “pinning him to a wall before knocking him to the ground where he sustained injuries to the head and right hand”.
“The assailant [then] turned his attention to the second crew member and came at him with a flurry of punches,” they explained.
After this NIAS spokesman John McPoland said the man left for a period before returning and trying to drive the ambulance away.
He was unable to because of a safety device on all NIAS vehicles.
“The engine stopped as soon as the handbrake was released,” Mr McPoland stated.
“The vehicle continued to roll down the incline without any effort of the intruder to prevent it from so doing and it was only as a result of the quick actions of the paramedic, who re-applied the handbrake, that the vehicle did not career into a building.”
After this, it has been reported that the 39-year-old man “started to kick at the equipment on the dashboard damaging the Mobile Data Terminal screen and the Sat Nav screen.”
An eye witness told the Mail: “Apparently it took several police officers, when they eventually arrived at the scene, to subdue and arrest the assailant.
“I understand that both the Ambulance crew members have been left severely traumatised as well as being injured,” they added.
Calling for more protection for “these brave men and women”, our source said the crew are deserving of credit for the “job they are trying to do not to mention the risk posed to the unconscious patient”.
A spokesperson for Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: “An ambulance crew was assaulted and vehicle damaged as they attended a patient in Cookstown.
“The crew members themselves were taken to Antrim Area Hospital and after treatment were discharged and advised, due to the head injuries, not to drive themselves.
“Both members of staff are, as a result of this totally unprovoked attack, unfit for duty,” they added.
“The Trust condemns utterly this latest attack on our crews. It is extremely frightening, in the early hours of the morning, to be faced with such naked aggression and it is not something which anyone should be asked to tolerate – especially ambulance crews who dedicate themselves to saving lives and caring for the vulnerable.”
In 2014/15 ambulance crews were assaulted on 251 occasions.
The PSNI has confirmed that a 39-year-old Cookstown male was arrested in relation to the incident, but has since been released on police bail without charge.