Crocodile Attacks in Australia: Challenges for Injury Prevention and Trauma Care
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Saltwater crocodiles are formidable predators in northern Australia, and crocodile attacks on humans are not rare. With recent deaths highlighting this as a public health issue, an evidence-based discourse about effective methods of minimizing the danger to humans is needed.
Using the Haddon Matrix for injury prevention, approaches to minimizing crocodile associated death and injury were sought.
Possibilities for harm minimization before, during and after a crocodile attack are identified, and their merits appriased. The importance of excellent prehospital and surgical and critical care is emphasized.
A combination of behavior adaptation, mutual respect, and minimizing contact will be the key to minimizing the harm from attacks, and excellent medical and surgical care will always be necessary for those unfortunate to be victims but fortunate to survive.
KeywordsAmerican Alligator Opportunistic Feeder Nile Crocodile Dominant Predator Saltwater Crocodile
The author thanks Dr. David Caldicott for data on Australian attacks and his excellent review of crocodilian injuries, which has informed this article, Mr. Phillip Carson FRACS, and Mr. Jon Wardill FRACS for clinical cases and, together with my other colleagues at Royal Darwin Hospital, guidance on crocodile injury management and effective remote health care delivery, Mr. Anthony Murphy of Injalak Arts & Crafts for Aboriginal painting and stories and my family and Indigenous friends in Western Arnhem Land with whom I first developed a fascination and healthy respect for saltwater crocodiles.
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