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News & Media

  • “Unknown couple” who helped shark attack victim well known at Marine Rescue Ballina
  • July 05, 2015

When a member of the public rushed into the training room at Marine Rescue Ballina yesterday (Thursday) to report that someone was lying near the southern end of Lighthouse Beach and “had a heart attack”, off-duty MR Ballina Watch Officer, Margaret “Meg” Luckie and Radio Officer, Douglas Hunter grabbed the rescue unit’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and ran to the scene.

On arrival they found shark-attack victim Mathew Lee on the sand with surfing friends attempting to stem the flow of blood from both of his legs with makeshift tourniquets created from the leg straps of boogie boards. Nearby a local resident was still on his phone to a Triple Zero operator.

Meg and Doug immediately put their First Aid training into action. Doug helped one of Mathew’s friends keep the pressure on the injuries to slow the blood loss and Meg helped his other friend reassure Mathew that the ambulance and paramedics were on the way.

“We thought we were running to help a heart attack victim,” said Meg Luckie. “We had our AED but when we arrived we were shocked to see Mathew’s injuries and the massive amount of blood lost.”

Doug Hunter said, “Mathew’s surfing mates had put Boogie Board straps around his legs and were pulling them tight to help stop that flow of blood. I took over on one leg with one of Mathew’s mates on the other. These guy were really doing a great First Aid job,” he said.

“Meg and I continued to help for about 10 minutes or more”, said Doug, “and then the ambos and helicopter arrived. We stepped back and they did the rest.”

“We were both at the regular Thursday morning training session at the Marine Rescue Ballina base,” said Meg. “Neither of us was in uniform and on the news last night we heard about the unknown man and woman who were at the scene. I said to our Unit Commander John Donohue today “That must have been us!”

“I didn’t know the identity of the injured surfer yesterday but now I also realise that I play tennis with his mother,” said Meg. “I haven’t had a chance to speak to her yet as she’s been too occupied with Mathew at the hospital.”

MR Ballina UC John Donohue said “This incident also shows how important the new radio tower building would be if it can be built. Its position will give an excellent view of the southern section of the beach and the north wall of the breakwater.”

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