The figures show that in the past year ambulance crews, responding to emergency calls and people in need of medical help, were attacked on 119 occasions.And in 16 of those incidents a weapon was used.The ambulance service has condemned the attacks on its staff and said not only does it represent a threat to their lives, but also to the safety of the public.Ambulance service spokesman John McPoland said: "Theses attacks are disgusting and abhorrent."Over the past few years there had been a rise in the attacks. Basically there are five attacks on crews every week."We need more education on how this affects our service and also for the courts to hand out tougher custodial sentences to act as a deterrent."These attacks are on people who have been asked to come and help, perhaps even to save a life.John McPolandMr McPoland said crews were attacked with any number of instruments depending on "what comes to hand"."There is no sane reason, but what we found is that alcohol and drug abuse is a common factor."People just don't realise that they are attacking those people who are there to help them."If a crew has to come off their shift because of an assault that just means we don't have the best cover, or the best resources to deal as quickly as we would like with other emergency calls."We just appeal to people to leave us alone and allow us to get on with our job."Using the Freedom of Information legislation the ambulance service has also told UTV there has been a dramatic rise in the number of 16-year-olds needing medical attention for drug misuse.In the past year, the number of incidents were drug abuse was involved with teenage patients rose by a staggering 235%.However, John McPoland said that rise is "just the tip of the iceberg".He added: "There has been a rise because more people are indicating that drug and substance abuse is involved when before there was more of a reticence about it."Female staff have been assaautled by 16 or 17 stone men. That's very hard to get over both mentally and physically."But often it is the case that only when the crew attends the scene that it becomes clear that drugs may be involved."It is shocking and it is reflective of the growing increase of drugs misuse in our society that needs to be tackled."