After my harmless encounter with a venomous snake and my visit to the Reptile Center of Alice Springs, I’ve decided to share with you the first aid that comes with treating a snake bite.
First, let’s start with the things that you shouldn’t do :
- Do not use a tourniquet, there is no need to block off the blood circulation completly and this could do more harm than good by causing more death of tissues
- Do not attempt to suck the venom out, this could actually be more detrimental than anything, even more so if you do so with your mouth – two patients instead of one anyone?
- Do not make incision or try to cut out the injection site, but really why would you want to do that, this method like the above have been shown not to work.
- Do not raise the injection site above the heart
- Do not apply a cold compress
Now, what you should do :
- Ensure you are safe first, you won’t be much help if you get bitten by a snake as well.
- Call the emergency services, if you can. If not and if you are with a group, the fastest person should get help.
- Immobilize the victim, who should avoid movements that would accelerate blood circulation and accelerate the propagation of a potential venom. It is crucial to keep the victim calm. The victim should avoid walking and be transported.
- Remove constricting object, like rings, since the area will likely swell.
- Wrap the area tightly with an ace bandage. Start below the bite and work your way up, you want to cover the whole limb. Do not wrap to tightly. If you had a bite on the forearm for example, you would bandage the whole arm, but not close off the fingers, because by monitoring the fingers you can establish if your bandage is too tight.
- Splint the limb to immobilize and prevent movement, further preventing propagation of the venom.
It’s commonly heard that you should bring the snake with you for identification and administration of correct anti venom. However, you should not waste time hunting for the said snake, which could just put the helper in danger. Bring it if it’s already dead, but don’t waste time hunting it. The doctor can identify the snake with a machine that analyze a sample taken at the bite site or, without said machine, based on the symptoms displayed.
And, finally, just for fun here is a picture taken with a very gentle reptile at the Center, where you can learn all about reptiles and snakes of Australia and beyond. This is where I learned about this piece of first aid.