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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Could Steve Irwin Have Been Saved?

I’m not sure what is taught during first aid lessons these days but I still remember this during my days as a Scout during the 60s.

One does not remove a wound like a knife sticking in your body but keep the wound safe from further injury and get to the hospital. I think the reason is that the knife does no further damage but if removed uncontrolled bleeding can occur. So if you are not in a hospital for emergency treatment, you will bleed to death before you get there.

Being stung by a stingray is very painful but seldom fatal but a wound in the heart is very dangerous, as there is no way anyone can stop the bleeding without an emergency operation. The pain must have been really severe and the natural reaction is to remove the sting.

If you look at the diagram of the sting, it is jagged and designed to go only one way. Pulling it out will only make the wound worse.

I think I had an encounter with a stingray sometime in 1967. I was on the whaler (a rowboat with a sail) expedition during an Outward Bound Course and we were getting the boat ashore somewhere off Pangkor Island.

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my right ankle and I noticed something shadowy move in the murky water. I could not recognise the object and thought I had been bitten by a sea snake.
I quickly climbed aboard again. I examined the wound for puncture wounds like the teeth of a sea snake but found none. The wound was like someone had cut me with a razor just on the bony part of the ankle.

I was told to rest but the pain was quite bad. Even worse was the thought that so far away from civilisation and with no mobile phone and a slow boat, I believed I would be dead before we could reach any hospital.

The instructor told me later that I was really pale after the incident. I recovered to take part in the 3-mile walk a few days later but then the wound turned a little swollen and they sent me to Lumut Hospital for treatment.

After so many years I still have a small scar to remind me of the day I thought my time had come.

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