Doctor reveals unseen horror of Westfield Bondi Junction stabbing: How victims had to be repeatedly resuscitated in emergency rooms

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Written By Maya Cantina

A doctor has described the harrowing scenes inside a Sydney hospital’s emergency department including how victims had to be repeatedly resuscitated following the horrific Westfield Bondi Junction attack. 

Trauma surgeon Dr Anthony Chambers was on duty at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, about 10 minutes from the scene of the attack, and was finishing up an appendix operation at about 4pm Saturday when the chaos erupted.

‘My phone, our surgical registrar’s phone, the anaesthetist’s phone, our trauma alert went off and I knew something really bad had happened,’ Dr Chambers told the ABC’s 7.30. 

St Vincent’s was told to expect five patients, all critical, as the situation unfolded.

It was just one of six Sydney hospitals that would treat the 18 victims stabbed at the hands of the lone knifeman in the busy shopping mall, six of whom tragically died. 

Dr Anthony Chambers was the trauma surgeon on duty at St Vincent’s Hospital on Saturday

Eighteen people were stabbed by a lone knifeman at Westfield Bondi Junction in an attack that has left Sydney reeling (pictured: paramedics at the scene)

Eighteen people were stabbed by a lone knifeman at Westfield Bondi Junction in an attack that has left Sydney reeling (pictured: paramedics at the scene)

‘By the time I had got down to the emergency department, we had already received our first patient,’ Dr Chambers said.

‘And so the team was actively resuscitating that patient and I went straight to assist with that.’

Part of his job as lead surgeon on duty is to assess patients, coordinate treatment and allocate the hospital’s limited life-saving staff and equipment as needed – a task made harder by not knowing what injuries the next patients to arrive might have.

‘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, and resuscitate them (again),’ Dr Chambers said.

One of the most urgent tasks to stabilise patients, he said, is to replace lost blood to prevent organs shutting down.

‘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.

As doctors, nurses, surgeons and anesthetists were feverishly working on the patients, social worker Scarlett Sevastopoulos was one of the staff helping frantic family members who had rushed to the hospital. 

St Vincent's was one of six hospitals to take in patients from Saturday's attack

St Vincent’s was one of six hospitals to take in patients from Saturday’s attack

Scarlett Sevastopoulos told the ABC it was a privilege to help families as a social worker at the hospital

Scarlett Sevastopoulos told the ABC it was a privilege to help families as a social worker at the hospital

Many were unsure of their loved one’s injuries or even if they were at the right hospital their family member had been transferred to.

Ms Sevestopoulos said her main focus was to calm confused relatives by getting them to a quieter part of the hospital and potentially getting them off searching their phones for information online which might be distressing or inaccurate. 

She described the work she does helping families navigate such heart-rending events as a ‘privilege’.

Eight hours after the first patient arrived the situation was under control enough for staff to be able to take a breather and collect their bearings. 

On Thursday, hundreds of people are set to gather at Westfield Bondi Junction in the eastern suburbs to pay their respects to those affected by Saturday’s attack, with black ribbons to be displayed inside the centre.

The re-opening will mark almost a week since six people were killed when 40-year-old Joel Cauchi went on a stabbing spree.

Bondi Junction's Oxford Street Mall has become a sea of tributes honouring the victims of the Westfield stabbing attack

Bondi Junction’s Oxford Street Mall has become a sea of tributes honouring the victims of the Westfield stabbing attack

Bondi Junction will open its doors on Thursday to allow people to pay their respects to victims

Bondi Junction will open its doors on Thursday to allow people to pay their respects to victims

The Queensland man, whose family said lived with mental illness for decades, was shot dead by a police inspector on level five of the complex.

Six people remain in hospitals across Sydney, with one woman in intensive care in a serious but stable condition, NSW Health said on Wednesday.

A nine-month-old baby, whose mother was among five women killed in the attack, is in hospital in a serious but stable condition.

A permanent memorial is being planned near the site, and a beachside candlelight vigil will also be held on Sunday.

Ashlee Good, 38, advertising heiress Dawn Singleton, 25, architect Jade Young, 47, artist Pikria Darchia, 55, and security guard Faraz Tahir, 30, and Yixuan Cheng, 27, lost their lives during the attack.

Cauchi (pictured) stabbed six people to death at Westfield Bondi Junction shortly before 4pm on Saturday

Cauchi (pictured) stabbed six people to death at Westfield Bondi Junction shortly before 4pm on Saturday

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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