Clad in a visored helmet, elbow pads, flak jacket and protective shield he was barely distinguishable from the riot police around him.

But as this picture of a modern paramedic illustrates, the dangers faced by those on the front line has never been so high - even if you are a there merely to help others.

This unnamed man was photographed doing his duty during the Smash EDO May Day protest in Brighton on Bank Holiday Monday. He may have been wearing a white rather than black helmet, a green rather than black uniform and his shield emblazoned with the word ambulance but it was not enough to distinguish him from law enforcement officers as he came under fire from anti-capitalists.

Witnesses said that when the paramedic went to help a policewoman who had injured her knee, the crowd hurled missiles at them both.

A spokeswoman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service backed the deployment of the paramedic, adding: “We have a number of specially-trained paramedics who work in partnership with the police to provide frontline medical cover for both the public and police in public order situations.

“The paramedics provide medical assistance if required and do not undertake any kind of police role. They are issued with protective, non-offensive equipment and have all received Home Office-approved police public order training.

“The deployment of these paramedics, who have operated for more than ten years in the Sussex area, ensures the swiftest possible response should medical assistance be required.”

Hundreds of protesters were in the city for the demonstration organised by campaign group Smash EDO.

It was aimed at Brighton defence manufacturers EDO MBM/ ITT, which has a factory in Moulsecoomb.

But the site was not targeted. Instead there were skirmishes between police and campaigners at various locations throughout the city.

Protest organisers denied that any paramedics had been targeted during the protests.

Smash EDO spokesman Andrew Beckett said: “I have not seen any evidence about a paramedic coming under attack.

“I am also concerned at the idea of using armoured medics carrying riot shields. The paramedics should be more clearly distinguishable.”