Paramedics are faced with violence and verbal abuse as they answer emergency calls across the West Midlands, it was revealed yesterday.
By the end of 2005, it is believed more than 200 ambulance staff will have been attacked while helping others.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has joined forces with health workers' union Unison to launch a campaign against attacks on crews.
Images of beaten and bruised staff will be plastered on all Travel West Midlands buses and bus shelters, bearing the message "If you attack a paramedic, who's going to answer your call?" The posters will also be displayed in the region's pubs and clubs.
One of the most stark images is of Dudley paramedic Harry Deany, who is in his 50s, who had to take six weeks off work after he was punched and hurled against a wall by a drunken patient.
Barry Johns, WMAS's chief executive, said the situation is "a national disgrace."
"Some of the incidents are so serious that our staff have no option but to take sick leave for a prolonged period of time," he added.
Doug Jinks, the service's chairman, explained that if ambulance staff are forced to take time off through injury, they cannot call on a " paramedics agency" for help.
He said: "We are taking this issue very seriously as the number of assaults on our staff is increasing."
Unison is also calling for a change in the law, so offenders are faced with an "absolute charge" of assaulting an emergency services worker - with offenders jailed for up to nine months or fined £5,000