While peacock bass fishing on the Rio Negro River, in the Amazon of Brazil, a couple of friends wrangled a 10-foot crocodile onto the bass boat. The guides had been noose-ing the crocs and then tying their jaws shut, putting them on the bass boats and bringing them back to the lodge so the guest could take photos with them. In this case, they had tied a bandana around the croc’s jaws, and it came loose. The croc slammed is jaws down on my friend Clay’s arm and drug him into the water, then began his death roll. The guide and Clay’s buddy from Texas were able to free Clay, but his arm was nearly detached and he was bleeding badly by the time they freed him.
My wife, who’s an ER nurse practitioner, was sitting by the pool at the main lodge when the frantic screams came over the handheld radio the camp manager was holding. She led a team (thankfully, there were also a couple surgeons in the camp who showed up), and they were able to finally stop the bleeding, but Clay was in shock and near death. They performed their first aid in a mud hut, surrounded by villagers and a screaming monkey, aided in part by the light of my two SureFire Aviator® flashlights.
It was clear that Clay needed blood to survive, as he was in shock and had nearly bled out. It was now fully dark, and there was no air support available. The nearest was two hours away downriver, reachable only by boat. So we loaded Clay onto the bass boat, my pair of Aviators in guides’ hands, and he was taken downriver to the clinic, where he received a pint of universal donor blood—just as he was about to go into cardiac arrest. That stabilized him enough to get him to Manaus, the nearest city, by plane, where he ultimately lost his arm but kept his life. He is now happily farming peanuts in Texas and even returned to fish the Rio Negro again the following year!
I never saw my Aviators again—they must have ended up with the guides—but they certainly pulled their weight that night. Thanks to their heroic efforts, and the heroic efforts of everyone else involved that night, a man’s life was saved in the wilds of Amazonia.
Liberty Lake, WA
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