The lifesaver’s little helping hand

By CSIRO

24 January 2014

Many Aussies will choose to make the most of their extra day-off this weekend by heading to the nearest coastline. While splashing around, the biggest concern for most of us will be how to ward off the UV rays. Or perhaps those sneaky grains of sand that hang around for weeks – no matter how many times you think you’ve gotten rid of them all.

But every Summer many beach-goers have a much bigger problem to contend with. They will encounter trouble in the surf.

We’re lucky in Australia because we’ve got surf lifesavers to keep a watchful eye over us. Since these bather-clad heroes first hit our shores, they have rescued over half a million people across our 10,500 plus beaches.

Beach
While they’re best known for pulling swimmers from rips and currents, lifesavers also have the tough role of looking after distressed patients until the ambos arrive. Thankfully, our surf lifesavers have a little green whistle to lend them a hand.

Officially known as Penthrox, the green whistle is a device used to deliver immediate pain relief. Used on hundreds of injured beach-goers every year, it has significant advantages over other analgesics, such as nitrous oxide and morphine, in that it is fast acting, self-administered, non-addictive, non-narcotic and very safe to use.

Penthrox, commonlyknown as the Green Whistle

Penthrox, commonly known as the Green Whistle

We’ve recently starting working with the makers of the green whistle, Australian healthcare company Medical Developments International (MDI), to develop a new production process for the whistle’s key pain relieving ingredient. If successful this will facilitate large-scale production to support the company’s plan to take the green whistle to the UK and Europe. This means our friends across the pond might also soon be able to benefit from this Aussie innovation.

So if you’re heading to the beach this weekend, stay safe and stick between the flags. If you do end up in trouble, be thankful for our amazing lifesavers – and their little helper.

Find out more on how CSIRO is keeping you healthy.