Mercy dash to save PNG shark victim

7:32 am on 13 October 2016

A rescue helicopter operation that has struggled to operate due to government department funding delays went on a mission to save a shark attack victim in remote Papua New Guinea yesterday.

A Galapagos shark in the Kermadec region.

Photo: Supplied / Malcolm Francis

Lae based Manolos Aviation got a call in the afternoon that a 24-year-old man had serious shark attack wounds and needed to be air-lifted from Lablab Health Centre in the Siassi District.

The CEO of Manolos Aviation in Lae, Mr Jurgen Ruh, said they were able to get to the man within an hour.

Mr Ruh said the man was bleeding profusely, had a faint pulse, and only hours to live.

He said shark attacks were very rare in PNG.

"In our seven years we've conducted Medivacs in Papua New Guinea this was the very first shark attack I know of for the last seven years.

"So shark attacks are very, very rare. You know the people around Lablab, they are all sub-sistence farmers so they wouldn't been somewhere off the coast either swimming or spearfishing."

Mr Ruh said the company had been at the forefront of medical evacuations in Morobe since entering into contract with the Provincial government but funding delays had made it difficult to operate this year.

He said they've found it hard to operate this year because of the slow release of funding.

"All government departments were slow in paying in terms which are unacceptable to the rest of the business world; some government departments around 300 days, some about 180 days," he said.

"There seem to be very few departments who are paying their bills on time."

Jurgen Ruh said the company has carried out dozens of rescues arising from pregnancy complications and surgical cases in its seven years of operation.