CRITICAL CARE: Dan Moore says he has never felt out of his comfort zone during his time as a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic on the Sunshine Coast.
CRITICAL CARE: Dan Moore says he has never felt out of his comfort zone during his time as a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic on the Sunshine Coast. Warren Lynam

Extreme medic's shark attack awakening

PARAMEDIC Dan Moore was well offshore paddling to the outside break for wave during a Bali holiday two years ago when the shark struck.

It gripped and stripped his hand, causing serious damage to tendons and ligaments. After initially fearing for his life, he was to come to fear for his future.

His brave 15-year-old son Max was the first responder paddling through the bloodied water to help his father ashore.

Like father, like son.

Safely on the beach at Balian, incredibly medical assistance came immediately from a nurse who had been nearby.

What was to follow, the surgery and long road through rehabilitation and recovery was to put the 20-year paramedic veteran on the other side of the life he saw every day.

"It opened my eyes," Dan said. "The boot was on the other foot. Stressful decisions had to be made. It was hard on my family and my wife Kristina. She had to ask the questions and give the answers."

Usually it's Dan asking questions of people in distress and those around them.

What he was to quickly come to understand was that it's life after rescue and surgery that can be tough.

"I didn't know if I could get my life on track and back to normal," Dan said. "But you learn you have to drive your own rehab."

Aided by his doctor and an "awesome" hand physiotherapist he was to find the light at the end of a tunnel and return to a life and a job he loved.

His hand therapist's simple message: people always get better if they work at it.

"To me getting back to work was the most important thing," Dan said. "It means so much to me. I love the people I work with. I'm just one of thousands and we all have stories.

"Kristina reckons we're all the same.

"I had such positive support from work mates I can't thank them enough. They are incredible people. It's good to know you have good mates around.

Dan's dad, a founder and life member of North Kirra Surf Life Saving Club, wouldn't let his boys join the movement until they left school.

When Dan eventually did at 16, it was to start a life of service to others.

By the time he was 24 and having done a trade and travelled the world, he was working as a casual lifeguard on the Sunshine Coast and volunteering as crew on the Energex Rescue helicopter.

There he was to work with first generation intensive care paramedics Phil Kendrick, Nick Prass and Dave Ellerby who he describes as great mentors and who encouraged him to join them.

He was able to achieve that goal by the time he turned 28.

The job can be tough, Dan said, and never tougher than on a Friday night dealing with unpredictable and aggressive people.

"I've never felt out of my comfort zone," he said. "We have better safeguard now but volatility can flare up quickly."

Difficult situations have become more prevalent and more violent but that had been balanced by improved situation management and safeguards.

"I love people. Everyone has a story be they 90-year-old man or a little kid. Some have done extraordinary thing. There are episodes in history they have lived."

The real lure though of life in the trauma zone is for Dan, knowing he's made a difference whether that's been as a lifeguard pulling someone from the water and then resuscitating them or delivering critical care as a paramedic.

"You get to make a difference to people's lives and for their families," he said.

"You see people at their lowest ebb. They need help and they turn to you."