RACQ CQ Rescue crewman in Mackay after rescuing the 46-year-old Tasmanian tourist bitten by a shark.
RACQ CQ Rescue crewman in Mackay after rescuing the 46-year-old Tasmanian tourist bitten by a shark. Madura McCormack

'She was bleeding out': Doctor rushed to aid of shark victim

A TASMANIAN tourist who had a "huge chunk" bitten off her leg by a shark was saved by people on scene, including an emergency doctor, after the horrific attack in the Whitsundays.

The 46-year-old woman was in a critical condition with life-threatening injuries on Wednesday night after she was mauled by a shark in Cid Harbour, at Whitsunday Island, about 5pm.

An RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said the injured woman had been pulled out of the water by those on scene and was aboard a 36-foot yacht "bleeding profusely".

"The shark had taken a huge chunk out of her inside leg and she was bleeding out," rescue crewman Mr McCauley said.

"The people on scene who got her aboard that yacht and quickly packed the gaping wound to help stem the haemorrhaging undoubtedly saved her life."

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Queensland Ambulance Service Mackay operations manager Tracey Eastwick said the woman suffered a significant shark bite to her right thigh and a smaller wound to her right lower leg.

"Fortunately there was a doctor on scene who was an emergency department doctor so fortunately he was able to assist in immediate treatment and to stabilise the serious haemorrhage that she had," she said.

RACQ CQ Rescue, with a Critical Care Paramedic on board, orbited the area and made contact with the vessel before deciding to winch the patient up into the helicopter.

Mr McCauley said there were about 30 boats in the popular anchorage yesterday afternoon, some only about 30 metres away from each other.

The injured woman and two others had to be put into a dinghy and repositioned about 100 metres from the yacht because it lacked an open deck.

Mr McCauley was then winched down out of the helicopter into the water and had to swim to the dinghy and climb on board.

The chopper flew to Proserpine Airport to refuel and was met by paramedics with bags of blood and additional pain relief for the woman, who was at that stage in a stable but very serious condition.

She arrived at Mackay Base Hospital in a stable condition just after 8pm.

"Given how serious her injuries were and how far from shore and from medical help they were, without the rescue helicopter I don't think she would have made it back to the mainland alive," Mr McCauley said.

"She really was incredibly lucky."