A member of staff at Sydney’s Nepean Hospital says she feared for her life after police shot a knife-wielding man then told patients there could be a bomb.
Police officers shot a 54-year-old man at Nepean Hospital on Thursday afternoon after he walked into the emergency department and allegedly threatened a security guard.
Tanya Sartori said it was “chaos” when patients were asked to leave the building and were then told by police “there could be a bomb”.
“There was a patient next to me on crutches and she was like ‘I can’t walk, where are we meant to go,’ and I said, ‘I have no idea what happened’.”
Ms Santori said the police officer told her someone had been shot with a Taser.
“Then he came back after going inside and telling everyone to get out and he said we’ve shot someone and there’s a bomb, you’ve got to go,” she said.
“As soon as I heard that I just went. It was chaos.”
Ms Santori said there was a commotion as police told people to get away.
“I didn’t fear for my life until (the officer) said there’s a bomb or there could be a bomb — that was the main thing.
“I was just thinking, ‘is it going to go off, where is it?'”
Nepean Hospital reopened early on Friday morning after being in lock down.
The bomb squad did not find any explosive devices and the area was declared safe.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones said police were trying to establish why the man was armed.
While there was no indication mental health issues played a role, police are considering whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“He was acting in an erratic manner, to say the least, and brandishing two knives,” Mr Jones said.
“That’s something we are concerned about. We will look at it as part of the investigation.”
Police will interview the man once he is out of a coma but have not detailed what, if any, charges will be considered.
Union calls for greater staff powers
The New South Wales Secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU) Gerard Hayes said they want security staff to have special constable powers, but ruled out arming them.
“Having a special constable power is basically the ability to restrain and detain people,” Mr Hayes said.
“At the moment, if security officers detain someone they have to make a citizens’ arrest — which is outrageous.”
“If you’re a politician and you’re in Macquarie Street or Martin Place, you will have special constables around you all the time. I think the community of NSW, health workers, patients and visitors should have the same protection.”
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was reviewing the incident and is in talks with staff and the Health Sector Union.
“In this day and age there are risks for our health staff but having more and more security staff and having particularly certain powers that are sometimes asked for may or may not be of assistance,” Mr Hazzard said.
“So those are issues that we’ll look at calmly and quietly and work with our staff not just in Nepean but also across NSW.”