If you surf on Australia's east coast, buy and learn to use a tourniquet. Great Whites, protected in Australia since 1999, ain't going anywhere.
Yesterday afternoon, and half an hour before sunset, surfer Joe Hoffman was hit by what authorities have identified as a ten-foot Great White shark.
The shark bit Hoffman on the arm, and left a two-foot crescent-shaped bite on his Outer Islands surfboard.
Hoffman paddled to the beach and was carried to a nearby park by six surfers who used his legroom as a makeshift tourniquet.
Local surfer Josh Shorrick described Hoffman as being “incredibly brave despite the pain”.
“We carried him to the BBQ area where ambos could reach him. Six of us helped,” Shorrick told News Corp. “I hope he’s going to be alright.”
To the surprise of nobody, least of all surfers, a NSW Department of Primary Industry (DPI) spokeswoman confirmed the shark was a ten-foot White.
“NSW DPI shark scientists have analysed photographs of the bite and determined a White shark of approximately three metres in length is likely responsible for the bite.”
What’s the takeaway, here?
After two decades of the Great White being protected, this is the new reality of surfing on Australia’s east coast.
So buy and learn to use a tourniquet. Most, although certainly not all, Great White hits are a bite-and-release taste test so once the shark leaves, if you’re quick a life can be saved.
If you can get a tourniquet above the wound site, your buddy has a good chance of living.
There’s an exception here.
If the shark takes off an entire leg or arm and there’s no stump, well, even a combat medic can’t stop the bleeding.
But if there’s a stump, there’s a chance, a good chance. If you act fast.
You carrying a tourniquet in your wetsuit? Or on the beach?
Before anything, before calling anyone, get it on, tight, a couple of inches above the joint.
No tourniquet or it’s in the car?
Get a towel. Apply as much pressure as you can where the blood is coming out. All that matters is stopping the blood.
A catastrophic attack and your buddy is going to lose consciousness in three minutes; after five minutes the outcomes are poor.