Hopefully, this date marked the start of a new era of collaboration between West Wetsuits, the Surfing Doctors and Calm As…First Aid.
It was the first time that Calm As founder Dr Jon Cohen, and his long-time friend and colleague Dr Phil Chapman (founder of the Surfing Doctors) had the chance to bring their knowledge of haemorrhage control and shark bite management to non-medically trained members of the local surfing community.
The event was kindly hosted by John Dutts and Nathan Rose at the Factory in Margaret River, with food, drink and publicity provided by Mitch Thorson and the rest of the team at West Wetsuits.
Despite being thrown together at the last minute to coincide with an impromptu trip to the southwest, Mitch, Dutts and Rosey managed to get the word out their to their core local crew and about 30 people showed up to have a go at stopping the blood gush from the model amputated leg Jon brought over from Sydney.
The mood was kept pretty light considering the heavy topics under discussion. Pretty much everyone in attendance had at least one “story”, or near encounter. For the most part, people who wanted to talk could share their stories, and people who didn’t really feel like speaking up could just take it all in.
Some of the principles in the lecture given by Drs Cohen and Chapman had been shared at Surfing Doctors, BWRAG and Stop the Bleed hospital lectures given previously, but others were really specific for the situation down in Margs. This is where the public forum of these events really shines – a lot of people love to learn and experience through screens, but being at a small event, sharing stories with your local crew transcends simple knowledge sharing. It creates communities of people with knowledge, tools and mindset to act when things go wrong.
Manly, Australia – Due to popular demand, the Calm As… First Aid Kits For Surfers have been revamped, and the new-look kits are already available for sale here https://bettersurf.com.au/
The Calm As… First Aid Kits For Surfers came about as a collaboration between a number of Doctors with one thing in common – they all surfed. In fact they were all members of the Surfing Doctors – a close-knit group of like-minded individuals who have filtered out of various specialties and areas of medicine to combine the love of two totally different passions; the surfing sport and lifestyle, and a lifelong career in medicine.
Every year the Surfing Doctors gather in Grajagan to discuss various medical and surfing topics in their Annual Conference. Conference topics vary, but the conversations remain around medical procedures, emergency surgery, eye injuries and fin chops, as well as the latest surfboard technology and the best equipment needed to take on the fabled waves of Grajagan
It was while in the jungle that Dr Jon Cohen from Australia, along with the help of Dr Phil Chapman from South Africa, came up with the concept of Calm As… surfers medical kits that are specific for surfers when traveling into remote areas, and who might experience surfing or travel injuries.
The first edition of the Calm As.. First Aid Kits For Surfers were an immediate success, and as more information and knowledge came through from end-users, so Dr Cohen tweaked and updated the kit into this current iteration.
“We knew what most surfers would need in a medical emergency while in the jungle or off the beaten track, but we needed some more information as to the quantities of the gear they would get through when using the kit,” said Dr Cohen. “As a result we have increased the quantities of certain gear, including the basics like bandaids and alcohol wipes, as well as including some heavy duty gloves and reorganizing the layout of the kit for more intuitive use.”
“It’s been fun just slightly modifying the contents so that the kits fit a wider variety of needs than originally intended,” continued Dr Cohen. “We found that a lot of surfers were keen to have a kit sitting in their cars or utes after getting back from overseas for those unexpected accidents when kicking around home, or on mini road trips.”
“The ongoing support of Calm As… has been encouraging, and surfers have been quick on the uptake,” said Dr Cohen. “Those surfers who have dealt with medical emergencies before will feel comfortable with the contents of the kits, and those ones who find themselves in an emergency situation for the first time should be comfortable with the contents and the straight-forward instructions that come with it.”
The crew at Calm As… will be giving away a few of the kits online via their social media channels some time in the future, so check them out on Facebook and find them on Instagram on @bettersurfoz
During the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group’s (BWRAG) inaugural visit to Australia, Calm As…First Aid founder Dr Jon Cohen was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to not only attend the course, but share his medical expertise in the field of surfer’s first aid.
While Jon has done stints as the medic on duty at some reasonably heavy waves, teaching specifically Big Wave chargers posed a great opportunity to broaden the scope of his thinking.
People surf everyday. People don’t get to surf huge waves everyday. As an emergency doctor in Australian coastal towns, Jon gets to see minor surf injuries most days. With the number of cars and ladders out there, it’s most days he gets to see pretty significant trauma as well. But the number of serious surf injuries that come in? Probably not much more common than them running the Eddie.
The forces involved in Big Wave surfing are enormous. This opens up the possibility not just of drowning, spinal injuries, and head injuries, but also the incredible task of performing water rescue in extremely challenging environments. Emergent management like performing chest compressions can’t be performed on a ski sled. It’s pretty hard getting yourself onto a ski-sled with a dislocated shoulder. How do you immobilise someone’s C-spine when there are waves with 30 foot faces racing towards you?
The value of the BWRAG summits, it seems, is not just in the course, the content, the common language and practical skills stations that we run through. While all of those aspects were put together incredibly well, it was a lot of the stuff that happened between the lines that really made the experience next-level. The stories, the tips, the experience and the possibility for collaborating on new ways of thinking made the weekend really glow for me.
I focused my lecture time on a few things very real to Australian surfers – shark bite management and snake bite management. Pretty much everyone at the course left with a tourniquet to keep in their skis or cars, but more importantly the skills and mindset to use them should the need ever arise.
The lecture quickly shifted to my approach to the trauma patient. This was adapted from a general top to toe approach that we employ in the emergency department, but presented in a way that we can apply it on the shore, on a boat in the channel, or in dire straits, the back of a sled. Taking general skills that I almost take for granted after 10 years working in the Emergency Department as a doctor and applying it to a heavy situation with minimal resources was a great mental trip for me. It felt like a blessing to be able to put it together in a room full of Big Wave experts.
There was enormous interest when we shifted over to my preferred technique for popping a shoulder back in – scapular manipulation. Tom Carroll in particular was front and centre, clearly having been on more than a trip or two where someone in the lineup or in his camp was met with this common surfing injury. The surprise for me, was an amazing technique shared by Greg Long on how to pop your own shoulder back in, by yourself, in the water, in life or death, sink or swim situations. Hats off to you Mr Long, I’ve been spreading that technique around at nearly every lecture I do, of course citing it as the technique you taught me during my lecture on that amazing weekend down in Austinmer.
Austinmer, New South Wales – Dr Jon Cohen, representing Calm As… and Surfing Doctors has been invited to the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group (BWRAG) for their Level 1 and 2 Summit at Austinmer on 27-28 April 2019. The summit is hosted by Australian surfers Dan Ross and Zeb Walsh,and will be led by BWRAG instructor former Big Wave World Champion Greg Long.
Dr Cohen is a long-term member of Surfing Doctors and is the founder of Calm As… first aid kits for surfers, which has started rolling out across Australia, and that came to the attention of the people at BWRAG, along with the Surfing Doctors presence.
Dr Cohen’s talk will consist of:
1) Top to toe – the first 5 minutes of any surf emergency (20 mins). Introduction to a trauma survey with introduction to:
– Minor head injury and concussion basics
– Spinal injury basics
– Chest and abdominal injuries
– Pelvic Fractures
– Long bone fractures and sprains – initial management
– Minor cuts to the face and limbs
2) Worst case scenario – how to save a life in a shark attack situation (15 mins)
3) Snake bite – basic principals of first aid (5 mins)
4) Shoulder relocation – how to identify and fix it in the jungle or bush (10 mins)
5) Q & A (10 mins)
“The guys from the Big Wave Risk Assessment group are definitely at the forefront of water safety, and it’s really cool that I got invited down to the Austinmer Summit to share some of my experiences in the surf medicine and emergency medicine fields with their participants,” said Dr Cohen. “Apart from being excited with the chance to share some of my experiences, I’m super excited to be able to learn from those guys about what they do in the water rescue, water safety and big wave fields.”
Having the Calm As First Aid Kit for Surfersreviewed by Swellnet, a major Australian surfing website, was an amazing step for Calm As. It marked the first significant press it’s received. Apart from their kind review, we received some great product feedback from the guys when they ended up putting it to use on an overseas trip.
On the back of the swellnet review, we were approached by the team at BWRAG (Big Wave Risk Assessment Group) about potentially collaborating during their tour down under. We’ll discuss in a separate post just what an amazing experience it was to be invited to teach first aid to a group of legends that included not only the BWRAG faculty (Greg Long, Liam Wilmott, Zeb Walsh) but the other attendees (Tom Carroll, Russell Bierke amongst other local chargers) and fellow guest lecturers (Shannon Worrell and Joe Knight).
The real benefit of the swellnet review was it’s creation of a high visibility forum about Surfer’s First Aid, and the Calm As First Aid Kit for Surfers in particular. We had a lot of opinions from a wide variety of people. Some experienced medics, some hardened Indo travellers. A lot of advice passed on echoed our own thoughts, while other comments and questions allowed us to dig deep and reflect on our own experience, available medical literature, and of course opinions from our network of other Surfing Doctors.
While we continue to grow the stockpile of educational resources we want to release to the surfing public, it’s been amazing to have a growing repository of surf-medic banter being perpetuated on the swellnet chat forum.
Hopefully we’ll have some exciting new product releases for Stu and company to review again in the not too distant future, and the whole review / share / discuss process can get a hard re-boot with an even bigger audience of both viewers and participants.