Get savvy on snake-bites

SINCE July 1, the Queensland Ambulance Service has responded to 127 cases of snake bites across the state and paramedics are concerned this figure will increase as snakes become more active in summer.

QAS Director of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety Tony Hucker said QAS responded to 653 snake bite incidents in the 2014-15 financial year and the recent spate of bites, including a fatal bite north of Townsville over the weekend, was concerning.

"Already since June we've attended 24 snake bite cases in Brisbane," Mr Hucker said.

"Queenslanders and tourists should be alert as the state is home to some of the world's most venomous snakes including the Red-bellied Black, Eastern Brown and Common Death Adder."

With 20 of the world's most deadly 25 species of snakes calling Australia home, residents are urged to get familiar with the correct first aid treatment to commence in the incident of a snake bite.

St John (Qld) first aid expert Mark Richards said there were many myths involving first aid treatment for snake bites, and it was important for Queenslanders to know fact from fiction.

"A common myth is sucking the venom out of a snake bite," Mr Richards said.

"This will simply spread the poison to another person and you will be left with two victims instead of one.

"If a snake bite does occur, the best course of action is to assume the snake is venomous and call Triple Zero (000) immediately."

Michelle Parry from St John Ambulance giving tips on what to do if you get bitten by a snake. Photo Inga Williams / The Reporter
Michelle Parry from St John Ambulance giving tips on what to do if you get bitten by a snake. Photo Inga Williams / The Reporter Inga Williams

 

Basic first aid steps to treat a bite

  • Avoid washing the wound as hospitals can test the bandage for poison and may be able to identify the type of snake, which will aid in treatment
  • If only one bandage is available, start over the bite site and then work up the limb. If more bandages are available, bandage over the bite site, and then with a second bandage start at the extremities (fingers or toes) and work up the limb
  • Bandage the limb firmly as you would for a sprained ankle
  • Splint the limb to keep it straight
  • Do not allow the victim to move around
  • Ensure the snake bite victim remains calm, as panicking will cause the heart rate to increase which will spread the poison around the body more quickly


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