Hospital under threat after frightening ER incident

Tuesday March 19, 2019

Published by The Border Watch


A LACK of security at Mount Gambier Hospital has again come under fire following another frightening incident in the emergency department on Saturday afternoon. 

Police were called to the facility just after 3.30pm after a man jumped the triage counter seeking refuge from another man who was allegedly threatening him. 

An eyewitness - who did not wish to be named - was waiting in the emergency department with a child, when the incident occurred. 

“I was really concerned for my own safety and the safety of the nurses because both men were really agitated,” she said. 

“It was a frightening experience and there was no security presence to defuse the situation.” 

She said hospital staff initiated a “code black” and police were called to the premises. 

“I left before my child had a chance to see a doctor due to the frightening behaviour of the men,” she said. 

Police attended the Mount Gambier Hospital and located a suspect nearby a short time later. 

The 24-year-old Mount Gambier man was arrested and charged with assault and assault of a police officer after he allegedly threatened police before his apprehension. 

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said the nature of the incident and the fact it happened in the middle of the day was concerning for both staff and members of the public. 

“It feels like I’m belting my head against a brick wall as I have raised this issue before, yet things keep happening,” Mr Bell said. 

“They need better security measures put in place whether that be by the way of personnel or other means.” 

He feared it was only a matter of time before a more serious incident occurred at the hospital. 

“If someone can jump a counter at the hospital to try and get away from someone, they could obviously jump it to attack staff as well,” he said. 

“It is an unsafe work environment - something needs to be done, not only to protect staff, but also patients at the hospital as well.” 

In October last year, emergency department staff revealed there are “code black” type incidents regularly at the facility and they felt “under threat”. 

Figures released by the hospital showed there were 27 official code black incidents at the hospital between July and October last year, including five in the emergency department. 

With around 20,000 people walking through the Mount Gambier emergency department doors each year, Mr Bell said the latest incident once again highlighted a need for improvement to security at the premises. 

“These issues have been raised with the previous government and with this government, yet not much seems too have changed,” Mr Bell said. 

“The Minister for Health needs to endeavour to put things in place to help improve the security at the hospital.” 

The man charged in relation to Saturday’s incident has been bailed to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court on April 23.