A nurse who treated an Indigenous prisoner dying from an asthma attack denied she was influenced by prejudice when she asked other inmates what he had taken, a Sydney coroners court has heard.
Nathan Reynolds, 36, died in the minimum-security wing of South Windsor prison on 31 August 2018.
Registered nurse Kasey Wright told the NSW coroners court she asked other inmates what Reynolds had taken when she arrived on the scene about 11.50pm and saw his pupils were fixed.
“They weren’t moving and I was hoping that it would help him. I was looking for a reversible cause of why he wasn’t breathing,” she said on Friday on the verge of tears.
The nurse said she could not find a pulse and Reynolds was not breathing. Wright administered naloxone, which reverses the effects of opioids or drugs, the inquest heard.
The other inmates told her he had only taken his regular medication, she said.
Asked by the lawyer representing Reynolds’ sister if she acknowledged she was motivated by prejudice when treating Reynolds for a possible drug overdose, Wright said “no”.
“If I was unconscious on the street when someone walked past me I would hope that they gave me naloxone,” she told the inquest.
Other inmates have given evidence they told the nurse that Reynolds was having an asthma attack. There were also puffers in the area.
She said she did not recall anyone telling her about his asthma and did not register the puffers until later, but had asthma in her mind as a possible cause for his ill health.
Wright gave Reynolds CPR manually and then with a defibrillator, while also administering oxygen, until an ambulance arrived at 12.14am, the court heard.
The inquest earlier this week was told by a fellow inmate that Wright slapped and shook Reynolds. She denied slapping him on Friday but said she strongly squeezed his shoulder to rouse him.
Wright was the only nurse on duty during her night shift for three facilities with up to 1,000 prisoners. The inquest heard she was not familiar with the centre where Reynolds was being held.
When initially called to attend the wing at 11.40pm, she was only told an inmate had asked for assistance because he was “breathing funny” and needed a nebuliser, she said. Wright said there was “no urgency in the call” from the prison officer.
The nurse said if she had known the severity of Reynolds’ asthma she would have immediately called an ambulance.
She said she first became aware of the gravity of the situation after she had driven to the facility where Reynolds was detained when she overheard a radio communication that he was “unresponsive”.
As she approached the wing, she said she heard loud noises, and when she arrived she saw he was surrounded by other inmates. Wright said she repeatedly asked the night senior officer, John Phali, to clear the area, which was an open area with over 20 inmates.
The inquest was shown footage of Wright walking to the wing with Phali. She said nurses were trained not to run in an emergency setting.
Before she began her formal evidence, Wright addressed Reynolds’ family.
“I just want to say that I’m really sorry for what happened and I’ve been wanting to say that to you for a really long time,” she said. The inquest continues on Monday.