Cottesloe: St John Ambulance paramedic students put to the test with shark attack exercise

Student ambulance officers Rod Fellows (left) and Jesse George attend fake shark attack victim Phil Van de Naport. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Student ambulance officers Rod Fellows (left) and Jesse George attend fake shark attack victim Phil Van de Naport. Picture: Bruce Hunt

A FAKE shark attack meant real training for 45 student St John Ambulance officers at their annual exercises with surf lifesavers at Cottesloe Beach this morning.

“I felt my instincts kick in when we saw there was an emergency, and everyone just jumped into it with our training,” student ambulance officer Rod Fellows said.

He and work partner Jesse George were surprised by supervisors when amputee volunteer Phil Van de Naport was found with a realistic-looking loss of a right leg from a shark bite at beach steps at the Indiana restaurant.

Mr Fellows said an attack required specific information to treat the patient, including the amount of blood loss, how long the victim had been in the water and whether they had been unconscious.

He said he needed to know from lifeguards if the species of shark had been identified, if the animal was sighted, if there were any other victims, and even if a limb may still be offshore.

The joint exercises train ambulance officers to work with Surf Lifesaving WA and helps lifeguards become familiar with the staff, equipment and procedures used by St John Ambulance.

The attack was the first of five exercises completed along with the resuscitation of a heart attack patient, treating a spinal injury, a food allergy attack and a bite from a blue-ringed octopus.

It was also a chance for the students, in the second of their four-year combined university and full-time work courses, to work with beach patrollers from SLSWA.

“It’s about the interaction between the lifesavers who rescue the patient and how the student ambulance offices get information they need from them,” SLSWA lifeguard operations officer Sam Peppler said.

MORE: Boy charged with grievous bodily harm over alleged Northbridge attack

MORE: City of Wanneroo to become Perth’s most populated area 

MORE: Some Fremantle residents object to Aldi liquor license application