If it wasn’t for the life saving First Aid provided by five complete strangers on a beach, Wylie Bay shark attack victim Sean Pollard may not be alive today.
The dramatic story of Thursday’s great white shark attack near Esperance, Western Australia, has come to life in recent days. 23 year old Bunbury surfer Sean Pollard was remarkably able to paddle himself 100m back to shore after loosing both his hands and his left arm in the attack. A witness at the scene described the effort as “probably the bravest thing I’ve ever seen”.
However it is the First Aiders, the general members of the public who helped out in the crisis, that have since been praised and commended. Esperance police Senior Sergeant Richard Moore who spoke to the Daily Telegraph, said it was the quick thinking of the First Aiders in the crucial first few minutes after Thursday’s attack that had been “vital” to Mr Pollard’s survival.
One of Sean’s rescuers was Esperance Primary School deputy principal Ross Tamlin who heard the blood-curdling screams of the Bunbury man. He recognised the dire emergency and immediately called 000 for an ambulance. Two other strangers, local train driver Dean Gaebler and Albany tourist Peter Rothnie, waded out and pulled Sean from the bloodied water, despite having no idea if the shark that attacked him was still in the area.
In a stroke of luck, Sean was met on the beach by a volunteer ambulance officer, Kylie Rothnie. It had only been seven months since Ms Rothnie had completed her First Aid training and she was to now put her skills and knowledge to the test, but in the most intense of circumstances.
Mr Tamlin, who had arrived at the scene by this stage, described it as “the worst thing I’ve ever seen on a human. It’s not something that you want to ever see.” Apart from his missing hand, gone from the wrist, rescuers Peter and Dean could see the bone through the mess of his other arm. Doctors would later have to amputate the arm because the damage was so severe.
Volunteer Ambulance officer Ms Rothnie and the other First Aiders began attempting to stop the blood loss with whatever they could find in their cars.They fashioned tourniquets from surfboard leg ropes and they used beach towels as bandages. Ms Rothnie told The West Australian “We just did what had to be done … after he was dragged out of the water,”. She went on to say “Dean and Peter did an awesome job wrapping up his arms and we were just trying to control his breathing and keep him calm.”
The rescuers then used a surfboard as an improvised stretcher and bundled Sean into a car. They then raced to meet ambulance crews on their way to the scene. Sean was met by paramedic Paul Gaughan, taken to Esperance hospital and later transferred by a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane to Royal Perth Hospital where he is recovering from the ordeal.
Paramedic Paul Gaughan, has also praised the efforts of Sean’s rescuers. He is convinced that if not for the work done by Kylie and the others, the outcome for Sean could have been very different. “It would have been a very confronting situation (and) they have all gone into action to do what needed to be done and stop the bleeding very quickly and apply that first aid which was no doubt life saving,” he told The West Australian. “Those early minutes were the minutes that counted.”
Sean’s story shows that you never know when your First Aid training and knowledge may be called upon.It could be someone that you know and love – a family member, a friend or even a complete stranger like Sean. If you would like to learn some life-saving skills why not complete a First Aid course – it may take a day of your time but give someone the rest of their life. We run the courses regularly in Port Macqaurie, Taree and Nelson Bay (Port Stephens). We can also organise a First Aid course for your group or workplace. Just check out our upcoming First Aid courses and enrol in a course today.