A female paramedic was punched in the face while helping an injured man in Wollongong's CBD this week.
The attack, the fourth assault on an Illawarra paramedic so far this year, has been labelled an "absolute disgrace" by her superior.
The shocking assault happened after two paramedics were alerted to a mobility scooter crash at the top end of the city's Crown Street Mall about 8.50pm on Tuesday.
The paramedics, both women, were waved down by bystanders as they drove past. They stopped and found a man had crashed his scooter, and fallen from it, near the intersection of Crown and Keira streets.
The Mercury understands the 53-year-old scooter rider became agitated and aggressive, striking one of the paramedics in the face and verbally abusing both of them as they came to his aid.
Police were called. It's understood verbal abuse was also hurled at two police officers who arrived on the scene a short time later.
It’s an absolute disgrace that paramedics, particularly a woman in this instance, are exposed to violence.NSW Ambulance Inspector Matt Sterling
The man, who was intoxicated at the time, was taken to Wollongong Hospital with minor injuries.
The visibly-distressed paramedic, an intensive care officer with more than 20 years' experience, sustained a soft tissue injury to her face.
She was supported by other paramedics - including NSW Ambulance Illawarra duty operations manager Inspector Matt Sterling - at the scene and later provided counselling.
Inspector Sterling said attacking paramedics was "just not on". "At the end of the day, there is absolutely no excuse for assaulting a paramedic," he said.
"It's an absolute disgrace that paramedics, particularly a woman in this instance, are exposed to violence.
"We're only there to help and assist, and make sure people get the best care possible. Assaulting a paramedic is just not on."
The Mercury understands there have been four assaults on paramedics in the Illawarra already this year, compared to just one during the same period in 2018.
Chief Inspector Darren Brown, from Wollongong police, said an investigation was under way. "We'll be obtaining statements from witnesses, with a view of taking action against the offender," Chief Inspector Brown said.
Charges were yet to be laid.
Chief Inspector Brown said people who physically or verbally attacked any emergency worker would be charged and put before the court.
"To have someone turn on you like that ... it's just a disgusting act," he said.
"They're just out there trying to do their job and help the community, and somebody turns on them and does that to them - it's absolutely unacceptable."