A 50-year-old man remains under police guard in hospital after he allegedly used a large kitchen knife to threaten more than 20 staff and patients at the Tweed Hospital on Saturday night (December 29).
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the incident was part of a disturbing trend at Tweed Hospital, where two-to-three knives are being confiscated by security guards every week.
‘Our members have advised that a man entered the Emergency Department at Tweed Hospital on Saturday night, in a highly-agitated state,’ Mr Hayes said.
‘Security staff approached the man to try to calm him down. The man then produced what appeared to be a large kitchen knife, approximately 25cm long, and started waving the knife in an aggressive manner.
‘Around 20 to 25 people were immediately evacuated from the Emergency Department waiting room. The man then chased workers and patients into the carpark, continuing to wave the knife, before he left the hospital grounds.
‘This was clearly a very dangerous situation, and it was extremely fortunate that no patients or staff were injured.’
Heart attack in police custody
About 9.30pm, while police were on route to the hospital, they were redirected to Wharf Street, Tweed Heads, where they challenged and arrested the offender and seized the knife.
The man was taken to Tweed Heads Police station where, police say, his behaviour ‘became erratic’.
NSW Ambulance paramedics attended the police station but while they were treating the man he went into cardiac arrest.
Paramedics and police performed CPR on the alleged offender.
He was taken back to Tweed Hospital for treatment and later transferred to Gold Coast University Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.
The 50-year-old is yet to be charged pending his medical condition.
During the ordeal a female police officer was injured and required treatment at Tweed Hospital.
Mr Hayes said security staff at Tweed Hospital have reported a growing trend in the number of knives being found on people presenting to the hospital.
‘The number of knives being confiscated at Tweed Hospital is significantly greater than at any other hospitals in the Northern Rivers region.
‘Extra measures need to be put in place to ensure that patients and workers at Tweed Hospital are safe at all times.
‘That’s why the HSU is urgently calling on the Northern NSW Local Health District to hire an additional permanent security guard for the Tweed Hospital Emergency Department waiting room.
‘Strengthening the hospital’s security presence will provide a highly-visible deterrent to stop these incidents from happening, and also ensure that quick action can be taken to de-escalate potential threat situations,’ he said.