RWBH mental health nurse earns bravery award for his actions when a hospital patient turned violent

Sukhbir Seehra’s work day as a mental health nurse in the psychiatric emergency centre of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) started like any other.

But it descended into chaos when a patient disagreed with a doctor’s decision.

“The doctor said to him, ‘You will be discharged’,” Mr Seehra said.

“Obviously, he didn’t like the outcome of it.

“He got agitated and just started pacing back and forth in the ward.”

What happened next during the 2019 incident and how Mr Seehra responded has earned him a national bravery award.

‘I’m going to blast this place’
Mr Seehra said he tried to calm the man but his behaviour escalated.

“I overheard the phrase — he said it — ‘I’m going to blast this place’,” he recalls.

“He was putting his hands around his waist area where one of my colleagues and myself witnessed, like, a red colour wire around it.”

Mr Seehra immediately contacted police.

“That was a bit of a scary moment,” he said.

“He was moving all the patients from the common area and asking them to go outside to the courtyard.

“The security president and the security officer didn’t want to touch him because we didn’t know what he was carrying.”

When the patient tried to attack arriving police officers, Mr Seehra grabbed the man’s arms to help subdue him.

After they had wrestled control, Mr Seehra said he and the officers discovered what the red wire was.

A coathanger.

“There’s [also] a little slingshot, got a few rocks in his pocket, that’s what his intention was, to hit us with that thing,” Mr Seehra says.

Commendation from the Governor-General
Mr Seehra’s response to the incident has resulted in Governor-General David Hurley awarding him with a commendation for brave conduct.

When he was contacted about the award, Mr Seehra said that he thought he was being pranked.

“I told this story to one of my mates and thought they might be calling me and just telling me this,” he laughed.

But once he realised the award was authentic, he felt good to be recognised.

“I think it’s very special to have,” he said.

“Whenever I go out somewhere, being on social media, some people recognise me and congratulate me on the street.

“I’m quite proud. Something good to share with the kids.”

Metro North Hospital and Health service, which oversees RBWH, congratulated Mr Seehra on his actions and his commendation, and said incidents like the one in which he intervened were reviewed to help prepare hospital responses.

Mr Seehra moved from Punjab in India to Rockhampton in 2007 to study his Bachelor of Nursing at CQ University.