Ambulance workers trying to whisk sick people to the hospital are sometimes injured by the very people they are trying to heal, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes pushed yesterday for tougher penalties against people who attack EMTs and paramedics, something officials say happens dozens of times each year.

Last year, 52 paramedics were seriously injured citywide, and so far this year, 51 have been assaulted, according to the Brooklyn district attorney's office. In 2010, they recorded 69 arrests, according to the D.A.

Paramedics want the penalties to move from a misdemeanor, which assault can be classified as right now, to a felony any time a paramedic is attacked.


Similar rules are allowed for assaults on police officers or transit workers.

Sandy Silverstein, Brooklyn district attorney spokesman, added that a special prosecutor would be assigned to all the cases.

The people attacking EMTs range from emotionally disturbed people to, for example, Silverstein said, one son who punched an EMT in the face who he felt wasn't helping his mother quickly enough.

In the Bronx, Betty Higdon was attacked after a guy "punched her in the head, choked her, started pulling her hair back and forth," Silverstein said.

She has been out of work for weeks with head and neck injuries, he said.