Bondi Junction stabbing: Dr reveals hospital scenes after attack

A doctor has revealed the intense scenes that played out inside a Sydney hospital in the hours following the stabbing attack at Westfield Bondi Junction.

Surgeon Dr Anthony Chambers was one of about 100 staff members at St Vincent’s Hospital, in Darlinghurst, who worked tirelessly to treat people left injured in Saturday’s rampage, which claimed the lives of six people.

Speaking to ABC’s 7.30, Dr Chambers said he was finishing up an appendix operation at the hospital on Saturday afternoon when his phone went off.

“My phone, our surgical registrar’s phone, the anaesthetist’s phone, our trauma alert went off and I knew something really bad had happened,” he told the program.

Dr Chambers said staff were told to expect five critically injured people with stab wounds from an incident at Bondi Junction.

“That’s what we knew,” he shared.

18 people were stabbed in the attack, with 12 people hospitalised across six different Sydney hospitals.

The first ambulance arrived at St Vincent’s Hospital at 4.05pm, with Dr Chambers leaping into action to help resuscitate the first patient.

Other patients also had to be repeatedly resuscitated after arriving at hospital, he shared.

“By the time I had got down to the emergency department we had already received our first patient.”

“The team was actively resuscitating that patient and I went straight to assist with that.”

As a trauma surgeon, Dr Chambers’ role was to assist the team and co-ordinate treatment. Replacing lost blood was one of the top priorities.

“We just methodically worked our way through doing the initial resuscitation of those patients, moving them to our CAT scanner to do a full body scan to get a better appreciation of the injuries, resuscitate them (again),” he explained.

“Then we moved them up to our operating room and our intensive care unit so that they could have definitive surgery to stop the bleeding from their stab wounds.”

Dr Chambers said it wasn’t until midnight that he and staff in the hospital’s emergency department could “take a bit of a deep breath and say ‘right we’re on top of this situation’”.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Scarlett Sevastopoulos was one of the social workers tasked with helping worried family members of those who were injured.

“It was just controlled chaos, in the sense that everyone was just doing what they needed to do. But there were so many people here from police officers to families to allied health,” she told the program.

Ms Sevastopoulos said staff found a quiet space for family members in the hospital before they began taking identification details and contacts for the injured’s next of kins.

“We had people just trying to see if their family member was here because they just weren’t sure.”

New mum Ashlee Good was one of the five patients rushed to St Vincent’s.

The 38-year-old tragically succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

Her nine-month-old daughter, who was also stabbed, is currently being treated at another hospital.

The infant is now on a ward, NSW Health said, and her condition has been downgraded to serious but stable.

Dr Chambers told 7.30 the death of any patient is “really hard”.

“In some cases, a patient will come in that has injuries that are just not survivable. And in that situation it’s an incredibly difficult situation for the members of the team,” he said.

Six people – including five women and a male security guard – were killed by Joel Cauchi, 40, when he stormed through the shopping centre in Sydney’s east on Saturday.

He was shot dead by hero NSW police officer Amy Scott.

As well as Ms Good, the victims include Faraz Tahir, 30, Dawn Singleton, 25, the daughter of millionaire businessman John Singleton, mother-of-two Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, and Chinese national Yixuan Cheng, 27.

On Thursday, dozens of people lined up out the front of Bondi Junction as the centre reopened for a “community reflection day”.

Speaking in the Westfield, one woman told she returned with her toddler because she works there and wanted to get used to going inside again after the tragic events.

Another man said it felt “weird” to be at the centre but he thought it was important the victims didn’t go “unseen”.

Scentre Group chief executive Elliott Rusanow announced on Wednesday there would be no retail trade at the Westfield when doors reopened on Thursday, instead, the public will be allowed to visit to pay their respects.

Counselling and services were on site to provide the necessary help before normal trading hours resume on Friday, though some stores may choose not to reopen.

A candlelight vigil, supported by Waverley Council and the NSW government, will be held on Sunday to allow the community to “come together and honour the victims of the Bondi Junction tragedy”.

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