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Serious shark bite at Rockaway Beach prompts bleed control training for Hempstead lifeguards

Hempstead lifeguards receive bleed control training
Hempstead lifeguards receive bleed control training 02:06

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The serious shark bite at Rockaway Beach last week has prompted bleed control training at some area beaches.

The town of Hempstead wants all ocean lifeguards to be equipped with stop-the-bleed know-how for shark bites.

They save lives in and out of the water, and now, a new skill is needed on our lifeguard stands -- how to stop the bleed of a shark bite.

"The number one preventable cause of death after injury is external bleeding," said Anne Glazer, trauma manager at NYU Langone Hospital Long Island.

Taught by instructors with NYU Langone Hospital Long Island, dozens of Town of Hempstead lifeguards are learning quick actions that can save a life.

"People can bleed to death within three to five minutes from a severe wound, so by using these techniques, you can slow down, if not stop, that bleeding and help them survive," Glazer said.

After a record eight shark bites last summer, so far this year, there were five in early July off Long Island followed by one at Rockaway Beach last week when a 65-year-old woman lost a large chunk of her left leg.

"Those lifeguards did a great job and they were able to stop the bleeding, and they said basically because they were able to stop the bleeding, they were able to save that life," Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said.

That prompted the town to bring in bleed control training, and Hempstead Deputy Parks Commissioner Justine Anderson says tourniquet kits are being placed at all lifeguard stands.

With more than 30 shark sightings in the last two summers at Town of Hempstead beaches, lifeguards say this adds a layer of readiness.

"Personally, I've never experienced a wound that needed a tourniquet, but now knowing that I and a lot of the guards down here have that knowledge, that puts my mind a little bit more at ease," lifeguard Thomas Flanningan said.

While we have seen fewer bites in recent weeks, experts say there is a reason for that -- bait fish have moved offshore.

"It's the same activity, it's just that it's been moved several miles off shore for most of this summer, as compared to last summer where most of those menhaden schools were right on the beach all summer long," said Greg Metzger, a shark expert at the South Fork Natural History Museum.

When bait fish come close to shore, so do sharks -- the new normal in our warming, cleaner waters.

NYU Langone Long Island is working to offer other municipalities stop-the-bleed training.

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