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First aid by surf lifesaver Paul Graham saved Joel’s life

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He was surfing on his own on Sunday morning … something so many Aussies do in their spare time.

Except yesterday Joel Mason was attacked by a shark (species as yet unknown), managed to swim to shore, was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital and is now recovering with five deep lacerations to one of his lower legs.

Unlucky to be there at that spot at that time, but incredibly lucky that Nambucca Heads surf lifesaver Paul Graham, 38, was not far away and was able to apply a tourniquet to Joel’s leg … something that probably saved his life.

Now on a flight overseas, Paul’s mother, Yvonne, said it was indeed fortunate for Joel that Paul was there.

“Paul knew exactly what to do and did it – he is very calm in moments like that,” Yvonne said.

According to Bowraville Central School’s principal, David Taylor, Joel, who is a sports teacher at the school, texted him this morning: “Guess what! not at work today”.

More about Joel and his Paddle 4 Kate

“He seemed in good spirits,” David said.

“He’s a well respected member of our staff and we are all thinking of him.”

REALISTIC: Richard Ellis offers sage advice about the risks of living
 REALISTIC: Richard Ellis offers sage advice about the risks of living

Also thinking of him was Nambucca surfer Richard Ellis, who was attacked in the same spot in 2001.

“The first thing I noticed was the helicopter hovering yesterday morning so I knew something was up.

“Then we heard Joel had been attacked … he’s a robust, tough guy and a really good surfer … I am really feeling for him today as the reality of the situation bites,” Richard said.

“It brings back a whole range of emotions … a sense of relief that it is not me, bizarrely, and also that he is alive – that we are both alive.

“Something like this shakes your sense of mortality profoundly – I can still feel that in my core.”

Nambucca Heads is still a safe great holiday destination
Richard Ellis

Richard said he was certainly more cautious now about where and when he surfed.

“I never surf if I see fish jumping because the risk is clearly greater if there is food around … but basically the risk is always there and with more people, more interactions are always likely.

“But then again, there are so many other things that could kill you – my favourite book now is Death by Coconut, 50 Things more Dangerous than a Shark.”