SELFIE: Billy Ludvigsson and Emma Andersson on board a ZigZag Whitsunday tour, oblivious to the events that were about to unfold.
SELFIE: Billy Ludvigsson and Emma Andersson on board a ZigZag Whitsunday tour, oblivious to the events that were about to unfold. Billy and Emma

EXCLUSIVE: The jokes nurses made to distract from shark bite

TWO Swedish nurses helped distract a bleeding shark bite survivor with a missing foot with jokes about becoming a pirate with a wooden leg.

"We were talking about him getting a wooden leg, and how he might look like a pirate with ginger beard and a little parrot, just making jokes to lighten the mood," Billy Ludvigsson said.

Mr Ludvigsson and Emma Andersson had been living it up in tropical paradise for the past two weeks but they quickly snapped out of holiday mode when a shark mauled two English backpackers during a day trip they were on in the Whitsundays yesterday.

Their actions for the 22-minute boat trip from Hook Passage back to Airlie Beach saved Alistair Raddon's life.

Mr Ludvigsson said there was a moment he thought Mr Raddon might die, because the bleeding from horrific injuries after a shark tore off his foot was so severe.

"It was a big bit that was gone," said Ms Andersson.

"Most of the foot was missing, there might be something left of the heel," Mr Ludvigsson said.

"You don't really focus on what's left, you focus on the injuries - where is the bleeding, what is broken? You don't focus on what is intact."

The couple said they tried to exchange contact details with the duo, but it was hard to retain the information.

"Hard to do it while we were tending to the injuries, but they were in such good spirits,"

In moments of crisis, people don't stop to think until the dust has settled, and Ms Andersson said she did not start to process what had happened until later in the evening on Tuesday, once everything had calmed down.

"I felt scared yesterday evening, because you let it everything go and stop working. You stop to think about yourself - what could have happened to me, or to him (Billy)?"

The couple's family and friends back home in Sweden are 'shocked' at the role the off-duty nurses played in saving a man's life in such extenuating circumstances, but Ms Andersson said friends and family did not know the full extent of what had happened.

The pair met at work, falling in love while they saved lives and tended to every kind of medical emergency you could think of.

"We do everything," Ms Andersson said.

In Sweden the pair are 'ambulanssjuksköterska' which doesn't translate in English, but the couple says in Australia they would be emergency service nurses.

They live and work in Trollhattan, a small city close to the Gothenburg

Mr Ludvigsson had been to the Whitsundays previously, but said he did not enjoy it because he spent most of the time hungover.

Hungering for a taste of the turquoise waters and white sands, he decided to return with Ms Andersson, determined to experience the region's adventure and breathtaking scenery.

After a quick Google to find out about the different tours in the region, Mr Ludvigsson said they decided to go with ZigZag tours because of the fast boat.

"You can get to multiple spots because of the really fast boat, so that was interesting for us," he said.

Mr Ludvigsson praised the actions of the crew member, who went to retrieve the backpackers after the attack on a paddle board.

"I am not sure that is something I would have done," he said.

"He went straight in, there was no hesitation."

Ms Andersson said the crew was 'incredible' and she was impressed with the level of calm they displayed while doing everything they could to help in the emergency at hand.

"If we were going to do this again, I would go with them every time - they were super cool, no one hesitated he went straight in to get them."