Australian first to help save surfers' lives
Lifesaving technology and custom first aid kits and training specific to shark attacks will be deployed to more than 160 boardrider clubs, surf schools and high-performance coaches at beaches along the NSW coastline, in an Australian-first for shark incident response.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall made the announcement on Monday November 15 at Manly Beach, stating Surfing NSW would receive $500,000 in funding to roll out the revolutionary strategy.
“Sadly, most recent shark attack victims have been surfers, so this investment is about doing everything we can to ensure they get help quickly,” Mr Marshall said.
“Every surfer in NSW will now have access to first-aid training through Surfing NSW’s Surfers Rescue 24/7 program, while customised medical kits and training will be supplied to more than 110 NSW boardrider clubs and 55 surf schools.
“To help keep surfers even safer, an additional fleet of approximately 20 drones will be used by Surfing NSW to patrol their events, in addition to our world-leading fleet of shark-spotting drones already delivered by Surf Life Saving NSW.
“NSW has the largest shark management program anywhere across the globe and this is just another tool to help keep swimmers and surfers safe at the best beaches in the world.”
Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden said partnering with the NSW Government would upskill surfers to ensure they had the knowledge and tools needed in dire situations.
“I think I speak for a lot of surfers in this state when I say that we’re grateful for this support that will ultimately benefit all NSW surfers,” Mr Madden said.
“These skills and resources could prove life-saving, especially in remote regions where emergency services may be some distance away.
“Every one of us wants to make sure we have the skills and tools we need so that if the worst happens to one of our mates, we can do everything we can to save them.”
All trauma first aid kits have been designed by TacMed Paramedics and Military Medics, using approved equipment developed by multiple militaries, law enforcement and ambulance agencies globally.
The trauma first aid kit has been designed in collaboration with Surfing NSW staff for boardriders and beachgoers to rapidly deploy in the event of an immediate, life-threatening trauma in an aquatic environment.
In addition to the immediate trauma/bleeding control equipment, there are also multiple hypothermia blankets and equipment for fracture management, basic first aid (minor wounds) and a compact, vacuum-sealed soft litter called the TacMed QuikLitter Lite which folds out and allows a patient to be carried off the beach to awaiting medical services.
TacMed CEO and former Australian Army Special Operations Medic Jeremy Holder believes the simple and effective kits could potentially be the major difference between life and death.
“A shark attack on a regional or unpatrolled beach can lead to a life-threatening bleed and quickly become fatal,” says Holder. “Oftentimes, you have three to five minutes to stop the bleed and with ambulance response time being an average of 11 minutes, these kits provide simple tools that are backed by years of successful battlefield medicine data and can ultimately assist in saving a life. The trauma first aid kits are small, lightweight, clearly labelled and designed to be deployed in the critical first few minutes after a major incident.”
Manly Surf School owner and operator Matt Grainger is pleased to see all surf schools and boardrider clubs in NSW receive kits that could be vital in an emergency.
“Trauma first aid kits like this from TacMed not only provide vital support for people like myself who run a business on the beach, but also to recreational surfers and boardrider club members who call the ocean their playground. I think these kits and the added support for surf schools and boardrider clubs will provide a sense of safety to all ocean-goers.”
Photo: Ethan Smith /Surfing NSW
The NSW Government’s 2021-2022 Shark Management Program includes:
- The largest fleet of shark-spotting drones keeping watch over 50 beaches;
- 37 VR4G listening stations to detect tagged sharks;
- 170 SMART drumlines;
- The continuation of 51 shark nets between Newcastle and Wollongong; and
- The SharkSmart app and community awareness and education programs and shark research.
The NSW Government encourages beachgoers to be SharkSmart when entering the ocean and download the SharkSmart app. For more information, visit sharksmart.nsw.gov.au.
Keep up to date with the program through surfingnsw.com.au