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Surfer bitten by shark swims ashore, instructs others how to tie tourniquet

Joseph Tanner, a trauma nurse, instructed bystanders to use the leash of his surfboard as a tourniquet until EMS arrived

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — A shark attacked a surfer north of Cannon Beach off the Oregon coast. But he survived after swimming to shore and instructing others how to tie a tourniquet around his injured leg, police said.

Joseph Tanner, 29, of Portland, Oregon, was bitten in his upper thigh and lower leg while surfing Monday afternoon near Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon State Police spokesman Lt. Steve Mitchell said.

After swimming to shore, Tanner was stabilized at the scene and flown to Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Medical Center with injuries described as serious. A hospital spokesman, Brian Terrett, said Tuesday morning he had no information about a patient with that name.

Surfer Jeff Rose told KGW-TV that Tanner is a trauma nurse. A Facebook profile for a Joe Tanner of Portland indicates he works at Legacy Emanuel.

“He directed his own first aid, what needed to be done,” Rose said. “He asked us a lot of questions: what we were seeing, if we saw spurting blood.”

Oregon State Police talked with two other surfers who were in the water with Tanner. One of them, West Woodworth, 29, said Tanner had been in the water for 10 to 15 minutes before the shark attack occurred.

“Mr. Woodworth saw Mr. Tanner start to flail around and then get back on his board. He then heard Mr. Tanner scream to get out of the water,” Oregon State Police spokesperson Lt. Cari Boyd said.

All three started paddling back to shore, 30 to 40 yards away. Tanner was nearly able to get to the shoreline when Woodworth pulled him out of the water. Tanner “started directing Mr. Woodworth and other people on the beach on how to tie a tourniquet on his leg,” Boyd said.

They used the leash of Tanner’s surfboard as a tourniquet, placed him on his board and with the help of about six people carried him to the parking lot to wait for an ambulance, which arrived after about 15 minutes, Boyd said.

The third surfer, who was not identified, told Oregon State Police he saw a large dorsal fin and the back of the shark.

The online Global Shark Attack File database shows there have been 20 attacks off the Oregon coast during the past 25 years, all involving surfers who survived. The most recent happened three years ago, off Gleneden Beach in Lincoln County.

Investigators have yet to determine what type of shark bit Tanner.