Instructions for the unthinkable: Dr Jon Cohen and the Shark Bite First Aid Kit
Recently Dr Jon Cohen, an expat Canadian now living in Manly, was invited to attend a community forum in Esperance, Western Australia. The topic being discussed? Responding to shark attacks.
Also attending the forum were fishermen, divers, spearfishers, and surfers, plus many ordinary Esperance locals who remembered how, in their youth, they were able to dive off the wharf and swim in the bay. These days few would risk it.
The forum was a model of community action. Unable to shape government policy but unwilling to remain passive about changing shark behaviour, Esperance locals resolved to do whatever they could utilising their own ingenuity and resources.
Cohen was there in his guise as a surfing doctor; someone who can arm the early responders with the knowledge to save a life. After listening to speakers and realising what his own talents and limitations were, he devised a very simple shark bite first aid kit.
Cohen's got form on the board here. He's the founder of Better Surf, who among other things manufacture the 'Calm As...First Aid Kit For Surfers', (which I was incredibly thankful for after a hitting a reef in isolated Indonesia last year), tourniquets, and other medical necessities.
Initially, the 'Shark Bite First Aid Slam Pack' was packaged for Esperance locals. A benefactor paid for 75 units to be divvied up among anyone who figured they'd need one. They came with large stickers that users could place on their car or boat informing others that essential medical equipment was inside. It created a network of like-minded ocean users in the small town. People who knew they could rely on each other should the unthinkable occur.
Cohen's now seeking to distribute the kits to other communities or sell them via his Better Surf website.
The genius of the Shark Bite First Aid Kit is its simplicity, which is designed for swift action with one goal in mind: stopping a victim from bleeding. Says Cohen, "It's all you have to think about with a shark attack victim - stopping the bleeding. Considering the many other medical procedures, it's the simplest thing you can do to save someone's life."
Which is easily said, of course, the reality is far more onerous, and Cohen understands the pressure. So tip the pack out - "slam the pack out" - and all you'll find is essential equipment, and with it a tea towel-sized piece of fabric with instructions boldly printed on it. The Shark Bite First Aid Kit contains nothing extraneous to the cause at hand. Nothing for first-time physicians to sort through, to make time-wasting decisions or potentially get confused.
Inside the kit is:
- Two large bandages
- Two tourniquets (that, very importantly, meets Australian Standards)
- Many sets of gloves
- Elastic dressing
- The waterproof instruction sheet
All of which is packaged in a waterproof bag designed to fit in a glovebox, PWC storage bin, or anywhere on a boat.
It also comes with a lifetime warranty and if the worst ever comes to pass they'll replace everything for you.