Skeg Cuts - The Most Common Surf Trauma Injury

Skeg Cuts - The Most Common Surf Trauma Injury

June 14, 2018 0 Comments

Skeg Cuts - The Most Common Surf Trauma Injury


Skeg Cut


Mention surfing injuries to surfers and non-surfers alike and the first thing they say is, “Shark Attack.” While having an encounter with a shark is a terrifying thought, you are more likely to be injured by your own surfboard fin(s) also known as a, “Skeg.” Most recently, a Surfer in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, was thought to have been attacked by a shark, but it turns out it was actually the skeg from his surfboard, and yes the injury was serious enough he needed immediate medical attention and transport to the hospital. According to the authors of the book Surf Survival written by Dr. Everline et al,

Surfing Injury Statistics

“55% of surfing injuries can be attributed to a surfer and their surfboard.”


As surfers we chase the waves, we prepare our equipment, mindset, and skip nights out, just so we can get up early for that dawn patrol to surf.

Most surfers can tell you all about undertows, swell period, rip currents, and other ocean conditions, but when it comes to bleeding control they don’t know or still follow outdated methods and myths. 

Bleeding control tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) have improved greatly in the last few decades, and the TTPs have simple instructions, and are easy to use. As a surfer here is what you need to know about bleeding control:



3 Bleeding Types

Arterial: Bright RED, pulsating / pumping blood.

Venous: Steady, dark RED.

Capillary: Slow, even flow, light RED color.


Bleeding Control Techniques

Bleeding Control Tools 2018

Bleeding Control Myths

Surfing Stop The Bleed

  1. If you use a Tourniquet you will lose the limb –Tourniquets are used routinely in hospital emergency rooms everyday. The TGA, FDA, CE, and others classify tourniquets as Class 1 (Low-Risk) medical devices. They are proven to be effective for control of hemorrhaging in extremities. In fact, the risk of complications from tourniquet usage does not begin to rise until the 2-hour mark post application.
  2. You should periodically loosen a tourniquet to allow for blood flow to the injured limb –Only a trained medical professional should remove a tourniquet once it has been applied.

Improvised Surf Leash Tourniquet Failure

  1. Improvised Tourniquets are just as effective as commercial pre-hospital tourniquets –Nope! Current statistics and studies show that improvised tourniquets have a 75% failure rate (Kragh et al, 2008). Surfers typically think that improvising a tourniquet with their surf leash / leg rope will be effective; unlucky surfers find out the hard way that they work poorly if they work at all. In fact Dr. Ballas of Réunion Island who conducted the first scientific study on shark attack survival in 2017 came to the following conclusion:

“The single determining factor of shark attack survival is how fast a commercial pre-hospital tourniquet can be applied to a limb.”

Surf Leg Rope Leash Tourniquet

Notice that the words commercial pre-hospital are used and not the word Improvised; this is not a mistake or omission, this is intentional because only actual pre-hospital tourniquets are verified by the medical community to work.

  1. Tampons are effective for bullet holes or other wound packing injuries –Tampons are not effective for wound packing. Wound packing should be done with sterile gauze, or sterile hemostatic gauze.

Surf Life Saving Tourniquet Time Scale

Tourniquet Do’s, Don’ts, and Tips


  1. Do not apply a tourniquet over a joint – Tourniquets are designed to apply enough pressure to compress an artery to stop arterial blood flow below the tourniquet application location.
  2. Do not apply over items in pockets – Applying a tourniquet over items in pockets will decrease its effectiveness, and may prevent stopping the bleed, and or cause additional blood loss.
  3. Do not apply for minor bleeding: Minor bleeding can generally be controlled with direct pressure or a pressure dressing.
  4. Tourniquet Application Placement: There are two preferred methods of limb tourniquet placement:
    1. 2” – 3” / 5-8 cm above the wound location.
    2. As High & Tight on the limb as possible. This method can be utilized when still in a dangerous or semi-dangerous location, or when the wound is not readily apparent.

Bleeding Trauma Prevalence

The following infographic shows just how often-traumatic bleeding injuries happen. While this illustration uses statistics from only the United States, the rate of injury is likely the same relative to the population of any country.

Bleeding Trauma Statistics


Best Surfing Tourniquet 

Surfing presents unique challenges for tourniquet manufacturers and requires a tourniquet to be durable and rugged enough to survive repetitive uses and exposure to saltwater, sand, UV rays, heat, cold, etc.

The surf / marine environment requires a tourniquet that is specifically designed to marine specifications. Therefore, the best tourniquets for surfers are made by OMNA.

OMNA makes their tourniquets to marine specifications, and also designed them to be wearable. This means they are rugged, lightweight, and made for surfing. OMNA even makes a tourniquet leash / leg rope so that your are not only surfing safe by retaining your board, but are also immediately prepared with a commercial pre-hospital tourniquet at all times. Thus making it the first surf safety device that is also an actual medical device. OMNA will soon be releasing their 2ndgeneration tourniquet leg ropes / surf leashes in mid 2018; you read more about OMNA Gen 2 here.



OMNA Tourniquet Surfboard Leash 6'


Surf Lifeguard Saves Surfer With OMNA Tourniquet

There is more to surf safety than beach and water conditions. As a surfer the ocean demands respect, so you have to be self-reliant, which is more than just understanding how to read waves, and currents. 

Surfers absolutely need to know how to control bleeding with the right tourniquet made for surfers by OMNA.

Surfer Girl Survives Shark Attack OMNA Tourniquet