Treating snakebite

Do you know what to do if you were bitten by a snake?

The WIRES volunteer's finger as it heals after being bitten by the eastern brown snake last week. Photo: Facebook

The WIRES volunteer's finger as it heals after being bitten by the eastern brown snake last week. Photo: Facebook

Following several cases of snakebite across the country as the weather warms and snakes are out and about, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has issued advice on what to do if bitten.

In Faulconbridge just last week a trained WIRES volunteer was bitten on the finger by a snake while at a reptile handling refresher course.

The flying doctors service recommends: 

  • Noting the colour, size and distinctive markings of the snake without putting yourself at risk. A positive identification will help medics get the correct antivenom into the patient more quickly.
  • Stop the spread of venom - bandage firmly, splint and immobilise. Only remove the bandage in a medical facility, as the release of pressure will cause a rapid flow of venom through the bloodstream.
  • Do NOT wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom. It is important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.
  • Do NOT cut the bite or apply a high tourniquet. High tourniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released.
  • Do NOT allow the victim to walk or move their limbs.  Use a splint or sling to minimise all limb movement. Put the patient on a stretcher or bring transportation to the patient.
  • Seek medical help immediately as the venom can cause severe damage to health or even death within a few hours.
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