Uniformed hero: Shark attack
Off-duty paramedic and bystanders rescue surfer attacked by sharks
By Rebecca Volent
It was the stuff of nightmares, a reason why “Jaws” and “Shark Week” came into creation. On October 2, 2014, Sean Pollard, 23, was surfing at Kelpids Beach in Australia when he became the subject of a shark feeding frenzy. He let out a deafening scream, causing another surfer, Ross Tamlin, to retreat to shore. Tamlin called out to Kylie Rothnie, a St. John Ambulance volunteer paramedic, and her daughter to get out of the water as well. Jumping into his car, Tamlin called dispatchers and drove closer to Pollard. Dean Gaebler, a man visiting the beach from Perth, also drove to the scene.
Pollard, despite losing part of his arm and his other hand, managed to swim closer to shore, a pool of blood clouding around him. When Gaebler and Rothnie’s husband, Paul, got to him, he was lying on his back, eyes closed. They carried him to shore. There, Kylie Rothnie’s paramedic training took over, as she stemmed the bleeding by wrapping beach towels around his mangled arm, severed hand, and leg wounds.
“He was conscious the whole time. He was so brave through the whole thing.” Kylie Rothnie (perthnow.com.au)
They put him on a surfboard and loaded him onto his station wagon where his girlfriend, Claire Oakford, sat in back with him as Paul Rothnie drove the victim off the beach. Minutes later, paramedic Paul Gaughan arrived, followed by the ambulance. They all praised the team of beach-goers for their heroic efforts.
“They have done a really terrific job in those early minutes, which are what count.” Paul Gaughan (perthnow.com.au)
Paramedic Rothnie especially played a key role in saving the man’s life by stemming the bleeding.
“Obviously he’s had his wrist taken off and his left forearm, so it would’ve been a huge blood loss. Having that paramedic there would have saved his life and I’m sure Sean feels the same way.” Senior Sergeant Moore (abc.net.au)
Pollard was flown into the Royal Perth Hospital where he remains in stable condition. After the incident two white pointer sharks were caught and killed. Although officials are not able to confirm whether they were the ones involved in the attack, they will be taken to Perth, along with Pollard’s surfboard, for research.
Meanwhile, the community of Esperence quickly started a fundraiser to help Pollard’s recovery. You can contribute to their IndieGoGo fund for Sean here.