After experiencing a violent attempted robbery, it would be understandable for a pharmacist to feel angry at the perpetrator and want a few days away from the scene.
But Alica Gabila, from the Birrong Pharmacy in Sydney’s south-west, says she understands that sometimes criminals act out of desperation.
On Tuesday afternoon, a man entered the pharmacy on Auburn Road and requested medication; he threatened the staff with a sharp wooden implement. But staff members intervened, attempting to disarm him by hitting him with walking sticks.
“The person came in and requested Durogesic, and wanted me to open the safe,” Gabila told the AJP from the pharmacy today. “He was a bit agitated, and he just grabbed hold of my hair and had an instrument to my body, and was just dragging me around.
“That’s when the staff yelled at him to let go of me, but he wouldn’t. That’s when they saw an opportunity and did what they could to get him off me.”
Gabila says that she has a bruised back and a sore neck, but “I’m okay”.
“There were a couple of assistants involved, and one of the casual staff who helps me clean from time to time, and a person who just happened to walk past the store, he helped us out.”
She says she is very thankful to her team.
“The staff are really great. They’re like family to me; we’ve worked together for a long time and we’re quite close, and so you do what you can to help people in need.
“Pharmacies are front-line, because we deal with customers directly: you’re the face that they see. So when people are in need and they don’t know what else to do, they feel they have no choice. You wouldn’t do something like this if you had any other options.
“I’m not saying what he did was right, but we’re in a profession where we do have a lot of people in need, and there must have been some desperate reason for him to do that.”
Gabila says that she loves her job and the role she plays as a pharmacist in the community.
“It’s a real community profession; so I’m just thankful to be in the job that I’m in.
“And people really do appreciate us, considering the amount of people who have come in to make sure me and my staff are okay – it’s been non-stop!
“But we’re all good. We have a couple of bruises, but we’re okay.”