Paramedic tells of fight to save shark attack victim Laeticia


Paramedic tells of fight to save shark attack victim Laeticia
  1. Paramedic tells of fight to save shark attack victim Laeticia
    theage.com.au
    As he tried to revive surfer Laeticia Brouwer, Esperance community paramedic Paul Gaughan knew her shark bite injuries were…
    Football

As a journalist at the Esperance Express newspaper, I have spoken to community paramedic Paul Gaughan many times in the year I have worked in this scenic Western Australian coastal town 700 kilometres south-east of Perth.

I've interviewed him about all sorts of issues and incidents around the region.

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Laeticia Brouwer. Shark attack victim in Western Australia. April 2017. Photo: supplied by family Laeticia Brouwer. Shark attack victim in Western Australia. April 2017. Photo: supplied by family 

But it was still a shock to suddenly see him on Monday afternoon, standing over motionless Laeticia Brouwer at the back of an ambulance pumping her chest in a desperate attempt to save the life of the 17-year-old surfer.

Under grey skies, with the beach looking far from its usual idyllic turquoise water and pristine white sand, Esperance's off-road ambulance and a convoy of other four-wheel-drives had just driven off the beach.

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Emergency workers including Esperance St John Ambulance community paramedic Paul Gaughan try to save shark attack victim ... Emergency workers including Esperance St John Ambulance community paramedic Paul Gaughan try to save shark attack victim Laeticia Brouwer on Monday.  Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul

In the middle of a chaotic, traumatic, heartbreaking scene in the beach car park, my eyes were fixed on Mr Gaughan, the St John Ambulance paramedic: he was focused and composed.

When he initially took the call about a shark attack about 4pm on Easter Monday, Mr Gaughan's heart sank.

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Ms Brouwer had just been pulled from the water at a surfing spot known as Kelp Beds on nearby Wylie Bay Beach.

"I got the call and heard that it was a shark attack, I just got in my vehicle and went straight away," Mr Gaughan said.

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Esperance Police acting senior sergeant Ben Jeffes with Laeticias surfboard. Authorities are inspecting the mauled ... Esperance Police acting senior sergeant Ben Jeffes with Laeticia's surfboard. Authorities are inspecting the mauled surfboard to determine the species of shark involved in the fatal attack.  Photo: Caitlyn Rintoul

"There wasn't a lot of details apart from the fact that the patient wasn't breathing and was unconscious.

"That's probably the worst possible details you can hear with any job."

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Laeticia Brouwer. Shark attack victim in Western Australia. April 2017. Photo Facebook Laeticia Brouwer. Shark attack victim in Western Australia. April 2017. Photo Facebook 

Especially when you've been in the same harrowing situation before.

Mr Gaughan was on the beach in October 2014 after surfer Sean Pollard was attacked by two great white sharks at the same popular surf break.

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Laeticia Brouwer (left) is the latest victim who was fatally attacked by a shark on a WA beach. Laeticia Brouwer (left) is the latest victim who was fatally attacked by a shark on a WA beach. 

Despite severe injuries, Mr Pollard managed to swim up to 100 metres towards shore. He ended up losing his left arm and right hand.

Images of Mr Gaughan and other emergency services personnel trying to save Laeticia  Brouwer's life appeared around the world this week.

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Laeticias heartbroken family the morning after her death. Laeticia's heartbroken family the morning after her death.  Photo: Esperance Express

"I was just focused on the task at hand," Mr Gaughan said when asked if the 2014 episode on the same beach ran through his mind as he worked on Ms Brouwer on Monday.

"We were working against really difficult circumstances," he said of her severe leg injuries.

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Meelup Beach, WA, cleared after a shark sighting in January 2016. Meelup Beach, WA, cleared after a sha…
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