Home Preparedness Shark Attacks on the Rise: How Tourniquets Save Lives

Shark Attacks on the Rise: How Tourniquets Save Lives


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Climate change has greatly affected weather patterns and some of the various meteorological crises we have experienced in recent years that required emergency measures. Animal migration patterns, too, have been affected by climate change.

For example, scientists have noticed a change in sharks’ migration patterns in recent years. In some parts of the world, some shark populations have declined due to changes in their habitats and behaviors.

Sharks also are regularly turning up in places where they were rarely seen before. In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for example, shark sightings and attacks are on the rise. This phenomenon is likely the result of sharks swimming closer to the shore and taking victims.

Numerous experts say sharks do not attacks people on purpose. They say that changes in migration patterns are bringing sharks into closer contact with humans.

Emergency Management Agencies Should Prepare for More Shark Attacks

Coastal emergency management agencies especially should consider preparing for more shark attacks in the future. Although most agencies do have such plans in place, they might want to drill more often to make sure their personnel are well prepared for such incidents.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed the way emergency medicine professionals handle massive bleeding or hemorrhaging. The use of tourniquets is now the recommended and immediate treatment for uncontrolled bleeding.

Because shark bites cause massive hemorrhaging, individuals treating such an injury should use a tourniquet to control the bleeding. In one instance, when a shark bit a surfer who happened to be a trauma nurse, the victim instructed bystanders to use a tourniquet and reduced his blood loss.

As a result of this protocol change, most ambulances now carry tourniquets. These tourniquets have already saved numerous lives.

By training for shark attacks and using tourniquets, emergency personnel will spot gaps in their training and improve how they handle such emergencies in the future. Additional efforts are underway to train the public as well on tourniquet usage.

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, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.