Medical staff and police had to physically restrain a man in what has been described as a “terrifying” experience for patients and visitors to Craigavon Area Hospital.
Police in Lurgan raced to the hospital after receiving an urgent call for back-up from their colleagues in Armagh.
The Armagh crew had been a burglary suspect in their custody when the drama unfolded.
They summoned extra police resources and together brought the situation under control.
The drama resulted in thousands of pounds worth of damage being caused to hospital equipment and a ward toilet.
And the man – who was being accompanied by officers from Armagh and earlier arrested in relation to burglary – has since been charged with a catalogue of offences.
The PSNI has taken to Facebook and thanked the public for their help – while giving an eye-opening account of what goes through officers’ minds at such times.
The police statement read: “There are few things as terrifying for us as hearing that our colleagues are in trouble and need assistance.
“Often, in the heat of the moment, it can be unclear on the radio exactly what is going on. All you know is where they are, and that they need help. That was what we were faced with yesterday here in Lurgan.
“Colleagues from Armagh were in Craigavon Area Hospital with a prisoner when the call came. 2 cars raced from Lurgan towards the hospital. Knowing that you are going to your colleagues aid, yet that you are driving a heavy car, often going against the flow of traffic, through red lights, and overtaking where normally you wouldn’t is one of the most mentally draining things you can imagine.
“It’s not just your colleagues we think of, it’s the public around us. Yesterday, you guys did a fantastic job, and made that drive a lot easier than it could have been.
“Everyone was paying attention, reacted when they saw the blue lights, and made sure we got there quickly and safely. Thank you for stepping up! When we arrived at the hospital we raced through the corridors to the Armagh crew.
“With the assistance of our fantastic NHS colleagues we were able to restrain and arrest a male for a string of offences, most notably the several thousand pounds worth of damage to a ward toilet and equipment.
“That male was originally in police custody for a burglary and associated motoring offences from 2 days ago. He was taken back to custody, and later overnight charged with all offences.
“Today, he was remanded. Thankfully, during yesterday’s incident, no one was injured. We would like to apologise to anyone who was in, or had family in, Craigavon A&E yesterday and witnessed this. It would have been terrifying to see and hear, and when we barrelled through the corridors that probably added to the confusion.
“Sometimes we have to arrive at incidents in a fairly assertive way in order to keep people safe. Thanks to you, yesterday we managed that.”