Child suffers ‘significant’ leg injury, Australian officials say, as they praise swift actions of doctor in first incident
A girl has been attacked by a shark at the same Queensland island where a woman was mauled less than 24 hours earlier.
A rescue helicopter flew to Cid Harbour in the Whitsunday Islands region around lunchtime on Thursday to retrieve a “a female child in a serious condition with a significant leg injury”, rescue services tweeted.
She was airlifted to Mackay hospital and arrived shortly before 4pm.
The first victim, 46-year-old Justine Barwick from Tasmania, survived thanks to the swift action of an emergency department doctor when she was attacked at around 5pm on Wednesday.
The bite left her with a significant wound to her upper left thigh. By the time she was pulled from the water and on to a boat, she was bleeding heavily.
Dr John Hadok, who was on a nearby boat, helped stop the bleeding before a rescue helicopter arrived, local paramedics say.
“Fortunately he was able to assist in immediate treatment of the patient and to stabilise the serious haemorrhage that she had,” said Tracey Eastwick of the Mackay ambulance service.
The central Queensland rescue helicopter, which was nearby undertaking a routine patrol, took Barwick to Proserpine where it refuelled. During the refuelling, blood was delivered from a local hospital to be transfused into her. She was also provided with pain relief and other medical treatment.
Just after 8pm the helicopter arrived at the Mackay hospital where Barwick was in an altered state of consciousness and complaining of “significant levels of pain”, Eastwick said.
Rescue helicopter crewman, Ben McCauley, said the doctor and others who gave first aid to Barwick before she was winched aboard had likely saved her life.
“The original first aid was actually really well done,” McCauley told reporters on Thursday. “We actually didn’t have to do anything with the leg, it was pretty much tourniqueted up, bandaged up and bleeding had stopped. They’d done a really good job.”
Barwick remains in a critical condition on Thursday after undergoing overnight surgery, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Barwick works for non-profit Family Based Care in Burnie and had travelled to the Whitsundays on a holiday with her husband Craig and friends.
The Whitsundays are home to several species of sharks, most of which are not considered threatening, including white-tip and black-tip reef sharks.