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Two drug deaths, including that of an Indigenous man, spark call for change

Miklos Bolza -

Two tragic drug-related deaths have led to recommendations police and parole officers be given better medical, first aid and mental health training.

The recommendations by a NSW coroner aim to ensure frontline police and parole officers are better equipped to handle complex situations.

The advice was given after separate coronial inquests into the deaths of Omar Mohammad on September 23, 2020 and Jasmynd "Jazzy" Gibbs on May 7, 2021.

Mr Gibbs was a 33-year-old First Nations man convicted of domestic violence offences who died less than two months after being released from prison on supervised parole.

Living in temporary motel accommodation, he was dealing with childhood trauma, mental health and substance abuse issues when he relapsed back onto methamphetamine, known as "ice", and binged on the drug just before his death.

Mr Mohammad died of irreversible hypoxic brain injury at a hospital in Sydney's south as a result of a panicked ingestion of a bag of cocaine during his arrest for trespassing on August 10, 2020.

Hearing evidence about both deaths, Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame made a series of recommendations to NSW Police and Corrective Services to prevent similar situations and save lives.

On Monday in her findings from the Mohammad inquest, Ms Grahame said "urgent consideration" should be made to a proposal that all NSW police cars be equipped with automatic external defibrillators.

"Given the life-saving capacity of an AED, and the comparative ease of use – the obvious utility of such devices cannot be doubted," she wrote.

Because of "systemic problems" amongst officers as to how to correctly perform CPR, the coroner suggested police be put through mandatory expanded training on an "urgent basis" within the next six to 12 months.

"The inquest has highlighted a significant, systemic issue in relation to the current format of CPR training and raises questions as to the broader efficacy of the training regime to date," she wrote.

Those above the rank of senior constable should be retrained in first aid every three years, Ms Grahame said.

On Tuesday, she made findings in the Gibbs inquest and suggested a review of mental health and complex support training for corrective services officers.

Better training would be beneficial to parole officers, especially given the gaps in assistance Gibbs had received for his own individual needs, she said.

Ms Grahame pressed for improved "wrap-around services" for parolees with complex needs, and less reliance on motel accommodation for inmates at risk of homelessness released from prison.

"The lack of resourcing, poor accommodation in which Jazzy was living and the shortage of support available in the community clearly impacted on the supervision provided," she wrote.

Motels were clearly not just a "stepping stone" used by former inmates seeking more permanent accommodation, she wrote.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Miklos Bolza - AAP


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