Concern over paramedic assaults
The SNP has raised concerns about the number of attacks on ambulance staff.
It comes after new figures obtained by the party revealed that 258 assaults were carried out on paramedics in 2005.
The SNP's deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said the lives of ambulance staff in Scotland and members of the public could be put at risk by the attacks.
The Scottish Ambulance Service said assault levels had remained steady over the past few years but that staff were not reporting less serious attacks.
The statistics revealed that in 2005, there were five attacks with intent to kill with a firearm or knife and 20 incidents where staff were threatened by a knife or bottle.
Paramedics also faced 130 common law assaults last year, which were defined as spitting, kicking or punching.
The remaining 89 incidents reported by staff last year involved verbal abuse.
On a visit to the Scottish Ambulance Service headquarters, Ms Sturgeon said: "Ambulance staff face a hazardous enough time without mindless thugs attacking them when they are trying to carry out their very important work.
"Clearly this is a problem affecting the whole country, and it is imperative we can properly provide for the safety of staff working in very dangerous situations.
"The passage of the Emergency Workers Act was very welcome as it is vital that we protect more people from fear of assault and obstruction in the workplace."
She called for the law to be used "to its maximum potential".
"We must also use existing laws to deal with more serious attacks to ensure people realise they will face tough penalties for assaults on ambulance staff," she added.
While the figures revealed there were 97 attacks on paramedics in 2004, the Ambulance Service said the increase between 2004/05 was "artificial and misleading".
A spokesman said: "We introduced a new system of reporting attacks halfway through 2004 and that's why there seems to be such a jump.
"There have been a similar number of assaults over the years, it's just that in 2005, the reporting and recording became more stringent.
"The figures so far for 2006 - 66 attacks - shows that we're probably on course for the same number as last year.
Jail and fines
"But paramedics still aren't reporting all attacks. Pushing and shoving often goes unreported and the more serious assaults are noted."
The Scottish Executive said it had invested more than £700,000 in the NHS for projects to reduce violence and aggression.
A spokeswoman said those who attacked healthcare workers now faced up to nine months in jail and fines of up to £5,000.
She added: "The rise in numbers may be due to increased awareness and better reporting, with NHS management and staff no longer prepared to see being attacked or shouted at as just part of the job."
Frigging savages. As far as I know in PA it's class 1 felony to assault EMS workers in the line of duty. Actually had a pt pull a knife on us and the PD tonight. She got tased 4 times and the cuffed and stuffed.
Well I guess if the thugs didn't have a legal zone of non-interference (self defense is called "vigilantism" over there I here and against the law) I guess they wouldn't be so brazen. The concept of anticipating these things and protecting oneself is one of those barbaric american traits.