By Luke Voogt
A drug-fuelled rampage has forced staff at Geelong’s public hospital to lock patients in a children’s waiting area for safety, according to a witness.
Police escorted an ice-affected man out of the emergency department (ED) about 2.45am on Tuesday as the witness arrived with his sick wife.
“He was very disorientated and he was sort of just rambling,” said the witness, who declined to be identified.
“You could tell he wasn’t happy at all. We were scared about getting out of the car.”
The man’s elderly parents had taken him to hospital, the witness said.
“The mum was absolutely beside herself.”
The witness and his wife entered ED just before a nurse let about a dozen patients out of the children’s area.
“But it was still going on outside for at least an hour,” he said.
The witness heard the man yelling and throwing plastic pylons.
“You could barely make sense of what he was saying.”
A psychiatric nurse comforted the parents as police dealt with the man, the witness said.
“The mother was crying and kept saying over and over, ‘you’ve gotta help us.’
“The police were doing quite well considering the situation, but she was having a nervous breakdown.”
The witness heard police tell the parents they could not let the man into ED because he was high on ice.
“They said, ‘He’s just going to lay siege to the ED’.”
Police told the parents they could take him to their or a friend’s house but he could not be placed in lock-up, the witness said.
Health and Community Services Union assistant secretary Paul Healey said Geelong’s ED dealt with ice-affected patients a “few times a week”.
Methamphetamine use was increasing “radical behaviour” state-wide, he said.
He praised State Government’s plans to build a mental health emergency hub at University Hospital Geelong by early 2021.
But the government needed to fund more alcohol and drug specialists to work in Geelong’s ED now, he said.
Barwon Heath confirmed staff called police because a man was behaving aggressively.
Staff assessed the man, who did not require ongoing inpatient care, said emergency department director Michael Sheridan.
Barwon Health would not tolerate violence or aggression, he said.
Mr Sheridan apologised to anyone the incident had distressed.
Police attended the home of an elderly couple whose son was having psychotic episode about 5am Tuesday, Geelong Sergeant Peter Quick said.
Sgt Quick believed he was the same man involved in the earlier incident.
Paramedics subdued the man without police assistance and took him to hospital, Sgt Quick said.
Geelong paramedics attended ice-related call-outs “almost every day“, said ambulance union general secretary Danny Hill.