Mystery angel who helped save Sam's life revealed
AN OFF-duty nurse who took control of a life-saving first aid effort for shark attack victim Sam Morgan has told of the experience in the tense minutes before paramedics arrived.
But Ballina local Rachelle Hull has denied being a hero, instead thanking everyone else involved in the group effort.
On the afternoon of the attack, Lismore Base Hospital nurse Rachelle Hull was enjoying a beach stroll on Lighthouse Beach with her mother, Rhonda - also a trained nurse with 40 years experience - and step-dad, Bruce.
The trio were leaving the beach when they heard screaming, and raced down the sand to assist. There they found Sam and a fellow surfer who had used his leg rope as a tourniquet on Sam's leg,
Ms Hull knew immediately the attack hadn't struck an artery but she feared Sam going into a shock-induced cardiac arrest.
They wrapped Sam's leg in a towel while Bruce applied pressure to staunch any bleeding.
"I wrapped the towel around his wound to cover it. Bruce was there applying pressure on his leg the whole time right from the moment we got there and Mum was sitting next to him."
Another woman on the beach rang triple-0 while the trio draped clothes over Sam to keep him warm.
To keep him alert, Ms Hull and her mother asked Sam to stay calm, breathe evenly, and keep his eyes open.
"Sam was so good, he stayed calm, he didn't panic, and he obeyed all of my commands. He was a really good patient," Ms Hull said.
She described the situation as "very intense".
"You're not in a controlled environment, you've got all the elements against you.
"He had a lot of elements for a cardiac arrest, he was hypoxic (lacking oxygen), hypovolemic (shock-induced lack of blood volume), and possibly hypothermic."
By the time paramedics arrived Sam was "profusely sweaty", suggesting he was on the brink of a cardiac arrest. "He was definitely in a pre-arrest situation," she said.
Paramedics were able to stabilise him and Ms Hull offered to assist.
Ms Hull has worked at Lismore Base Hospital since she became a nurse five years ago in both the emergency department and short stay unit, and is trained in critical care.
Her presence of mind in taking control of the situation was described as "fantastic" by Elton Cummings from the Ballina Surf Life Saving Club.
But Ms Hull said it wasn't all about her.
"Anybody in my situation would have done the same.
"I was the one in command but I had my mum there and my step-dad holding his leg the whole time. He's not medically trained, I think he's the real hero.
"It was everybody else involved who made the situation what it was."
Ms Hull appealed to surfers to learn first aid so they could do the same in life-threatening situations.
"That was all first aid. That's all I did."
She wished Sam a speedy recovery.