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Will Shark Migration Patterns Change Safe Swimming Educational Practices?


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Policies are commonly developed to correct a problem in society. John Kingdon, a well-known political scientist and scholar, developed the “Multiple Streams” theory, which posits that when politics, problems and policies come together, a policy change occurs in the American political system.

Shark Sightings Are Increasing on East and West Coasts

Recently, shark migration patterns have changed on both coasts. U.S. marine biologist Tobey Curtis and his colleagues note that great white sharks were not abundant in the waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the 1970s and 1980s. But their numbers have slowly increased to the point where they are abundant once again.

The migration patterns of sharks also have changed; there are increasing shark sightings on Cape Cod and off the coast of Southern California. Some shark experts are intrigued by this phenomenon because of what it could mean for shark populations in general.

More Sharks Impact Public Safety and Emergency Management Efforts

Increased shark activity has affected emergency management safety efforts. Emergency managers and local government officials are working to keep people safe from shark attacks by ensuring that people swim in safe areas.

The San Onofre Beach near San Clemente, California, was recently closed when an eight-foot shark was spotted, the Orange County Register reported. Earlier this year, a woman lost part of her right leg in a shark attack at a popular Southern California beach near La Jolla, according to the Associated Press. Since then, several other beaches in California have closed when sharks are spotted to protect swimmers.

Increased shark activity could be the very momentum needed to change policies regarding safe swimming. It certainly gives emergency managers and public health officials an opportunity to train citizens on managing bleeding and applying tourniquets to victims of shark attacks.

Stop the Bleed Campaign Could Be Adapted for Shark Attack Victims

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently unveiled its Stop the Bleed Campaign, a program designed to help citizens understand how to control massive bleeding after an active shooter event. This successful campaign would be even better if it included how to control massive bleeding in the event of a shark attack.

Shark Sightings Offer Opportunity to Educate the Public

In the wake of the recent shark sightings in Southern California, local officials are particularly clear about shark hazards. Local agencies have excellent mitigation practices and are preventing serious injuries or deaths as a result. Training citizens on the use of tourniquets and bleeding control will help to further reduce the problem of shark activity and attacks.

We have an opportunity to create new educational protocols and policies to further strengthen citizens’ understanding of safety measures and first aid. To protect the public from injury or death, it is more important than ever that we teach safe ocean swimming as shark activity continues to increase.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four Master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, History, a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is also trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard and a Lifeguard Instructor. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.