Paramedic left shaken after being pushed into oncoming traffic during 999 callout.

A paramedic who was thrown into oncoming traffic while trying to help a patient has said he was so traumatised by the attack that he didn't think he would ever be able to return to work.

Barry Costello was helping a patient in the back of an ambulance when he was attacked earlier this year.

“The patient just snapped … I just didn’t feel safe. I felt like I had to get out of the ambulance. The patient then got out and came after me and my crewmate.

“We were punched, we were spat on, I was thrown in front of traffic,” he told UTV.

Mr Costello added: “In the weeks and months that followed I struggled greatly with my mental health and own self worth. I questioned whether or not I should be in the job.

"Unfortunately this is the environment that we sometimes face as frontline clinicians.”

After receiving help from a peer support scheme run by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and trauma counselling Barry returned to work four months later.

But after what he went through, why did he want to go back?

“What I love most about the job is being able to be there for people when they are at their absolute worst, when they feel there is no hope,” he said.

Violence and aggression on ambulance crews here are on the rise. In the past year, almost 700 incidents were recorded by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. 

Paramedic James McOscar has become more cautious after he was attacked three years ago while responding to a late night emergency call. 

He was forced to lock himself inside his ambulance when a number of men became aggressive towards him.

“I was out speaking to control on the radio when an individual approached the passenger side (of the ambulance) and opened the door.

"He started abusing me. I got out to speak to him. Then he started to get more aggressive. He punched and kicked me. 

“As I turned around I realised there were four or five other boys coming towards me. I just managed to get back into the ambulance and locked the door,” said James. 

He added: “They tried to break the window and get the door open.

"I knew it was getting to the extent where the window was going to break or something was going to happen so I drove off and waited for the police.

"The police attended so I went back to the scene. It was terrifying."