NSW Police Tasered a man after he allegedly stabbed and killed a paramedic who was finishing up his night shift and getting food at a McDonald’s in Sydney’s south-west on Friday morning.
Police were called to the fast-food restaurant on Queen Street in Campbelltown about 5.30am after the man’s colleague sounded a distress signal.
Officers arrived to find the paramedic with stab wounds. He was treated at the scene and taken to Liverpool Hospital, but later died.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said that when police arrived officers were confronted by a 21-year-old with a knife.
Lanyon said officers were forced to Taser the man, who is from Raby, to assist the injured officer. He was arrested and taken to Campbelltown police station for questioning.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan said the victim had been a paramedic for about 12 months and was about “an hour or two away” from finishing his shift when the incident occurred.
“[The man and his colleague] had worked through the night shift and had just finished a case at the local hospital, and were literally just grabbing some sustenance any person would expect that they would do and going about their job,” he said.
Morgan said authorities had already met the family. “This is a young man, who his father tells me from the age of five years old knew that he wanted to be a NSW Ambulance paramedic,” he said.
“He’d been with us for a relatively short period of time, but had recently found out he was being posted back to south-west Sydney.
“I’m told he was just so pleased he was going to be able to stay here with his family, bring up his children and look forward to the area he lived in and loved more than anything.”
He said the incident had been captured on CCTV, which would form part of the investigation.
NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce choked back tears as she expressed her condolences to the man’s wife and family.
“The health system is one big family and to lose someone in this way is incomprehensible to us,” she said. “Our health system has been through a lot over these last three years.”
A crime scene has been established and members of the public have been urged to avoid the area.
Australian Paramedics Association president Chris Kastelan said the community was devastated by the news.
“I’m a paramedic of 25 years. This has really hit all of us [paramedics] that I’ve spoken to, and I’ve spoken to so many people this morning,” he said.
“This is really going to hit the workforce; it’s going to be a very, very challenging day.”
The fatal stabbing comes four years after NSW Ambulance introduced a body-worn camera pilot in Sydney’s Eveleigh, Liverpool and Hamilton stations to help keep paramedics safer on the job. Late last year, the pilot was expanded to regional areas of NSW.
In 2019 alone, there were more than 400 reported incidents of occupational violence against paramedics, the latest publicly available data shows. Many of those incidents included kicking, pushing and spitting, according to NSW Ambulance’s It’s Never OK campaign.
Between November 2019 and June 2022, body-worn cameras were taken on more than 13,000 callouts and captured 245 incidents, of which 7 per cent were categorised as assaults, 15 per cent as other forms of occupational violence and 78 per cent as potential threats.
While violence on shift is alarmingly frequent, the death of a NSW paramedic on shift is not.
In 2011, special rescue paramedic Michael Wilson was killed rescuing an injured canyoner at Carrington Falls, south of Wollongong on Christmas Eve. Wilson’s death on the job was the first in three decades for NSW Ambulance.
Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes described the paramedic’s death as a profound tragedy and said the union extended its deepest sympathy and support to his family and colleagues.
Earlier on Friday morning, NSW Premier Chris Minns said his thoughts were “obviously with the officer involved, that paramedic’s family, and everyone in the paramedic fraternity in NSW”.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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