A corrections officer from Alice Springs jail has been flown to Adelaide hospital. (Nathan Coates )
A corrections officer is believed to have suffered burn injuries at the Alice Springs prison after the capsicum spray canister he was wearing ignited.
- The Corrections Commissioner has ordered a temporary ban on the use of all similar gas canisters in Darwin and Alice Springs jails
- A St John Ambulance representative has described the incident as unusual and distressing
- The prison officer has been flown to Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment
St John Ambulance crews were called to the prison on Sunday about 5:20pm, after a 49-year-old man sustained burns to his torso and hands while on duty.
NT Worksafe said the burns occurred after a capsicum spray canister the correction officer was wearing ignited while he was in the lunch room.
It has begun an investigation into the incident.
NT Corrections Commissioner Scott McNairn has ordered that all similar gas canisters be withdrawn from use in Alice Springs and Darwin corrections facilities, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Andrew Everingham, southern regional manager with St John Ambulance, said it was an unusual and distressing incident.
“Our thoughts are obviously with the correctional officer and his family at the moment,” said Mr Everingham.
“Reports are that possibly a capsicum spray canister or something of that nature has actually caught alight while it was on the prison guard’s person and that has caused some burning injuries to the abdomen and hand.”
The man was flown to Royal Adelaide Hospital on Monday and was believed to be in a stable condition.
Prison back in spotlight
In a statement NT Worksafe said Alice Springs Correctional Centre, who made the notification, advised that the canister was part of the equipment the officer was wearing at the time of the incident.
The Department of the Attorney-General and Justice was unavailable for interview today and union United Voice have been contacted for comment.
The incident comes months after a riot at the corrections centre in December, during which prisoners refused to return to their cells due to extreme heat and tear gas was used to bring the situation under control.
Then in February, a judge who considered the “appalling” conditions at the jail when sentencing an attempted child rapist was invited to tour the facility with the Territory’s Corrections Commissioner.
Justice Dean Mildren was reported saying, “the conditions are appalling, overcrowded and without any significant ventilation, more like those commonly found in Third World countries rather than in a country like Australia.”