John Nokas, a young man from the village of Kon, Papua, New
Guinea, was awarded the Life Saving Medal in Bronze on 20 December
Nokas and Sindilin had gone four or five miles along the coast
to go spear fishing. Nokas suddenly saw a shark
just near where Sindilin had dived in search of fish.
The shark took Sindilin just below the elbow on the right arm
and tore the flesh from the fore-arm leaving the bones bare and the
hand badly lacerated. Nokas had his spear-gun loaded and
immediately swam to Sindilin. He discharged his spear at the shark
and started to swim with Sindilin to the reef.
The shark struck again and lacerated the left fore-arm and wrist
of Sindilin, Nokas kept going and succeeded in getting Sindilin
into the shallow water.
On arrival at the Naval Base the doctor was called and asked,
‘Who put these bandages on?’ Nokas said, ‘I did, sir’. The doctor
then asked how and where he had learned to do a thing like that and
Nokas replied, ‘I learned at St John first aid at the Mission
School’. The doctor replied, ‘My boy, you have without any question
saved his life’.
The opinion of the St John Ambulance Officer was that
Nokas performed an outstanding act of bravery and showed
remarkable efficiency in his application of first aid. His
long swim from the reef to the beach, with a badly shocked patient,
was an epic of endurance and fortitude in first aid of a high
Source: Museum of the Order of St