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How to - Manage Snake Bite

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How to - Manage Snake Bite

DEFINITION

The pressure-immobilisation technique is a first aid method for snake bites. Applying firm pressure over the bitten area and immobilising the limb, slows the movement of venom from the bite site into the circulation, allowing the victim time to access medical treatment.

NOTES (AUST)

Elasticised roller bandage that is 10-15cm wide is ideal to apply pressure, but any flexible, stretchy material, such as stockings or t-shirts torn into strips may be used.

Snake bites in Australia can be potentially fatal so immediate medical assistance should be sought for all cases of suspected snake bite. It is not necessary to try and identify the type of snake. A GP may be able to identify the type of snake by testing residual venom on the skin. Also, for many Australian snakes, a polyvalent antivenom (antivenom that is effective for multiple species of snake) is often sufficient for the treatment of a snake bite1.

Snakes come out of hibernation during the warmer months of the year to search for food or a mate. Cool, dark protected areas such as under buildings and near sheds, around rubble and stored materials, and in long grass are typical areas that snakes may be found. The important thing to remember is to NEVER attempt to catch or kill a snake. Most snake bites occur when people are trying to do this.

IF YOU SEE A SNAKE

  • Note the location of the snake and make sure this area is isolated until the snake is removed.
  • DO NOT approach, attack or otherwise provoke the snake. REMEMBER - IF PROVOKED IT MAY STRIKE.
  • Contact your local Parks and Wildlife Service and follow the prompts if you have a snake you would like to have removed.

PREVENTION

  • Minimise the food sources for snakes by removing anything that may attract rodents or frogs.
  • Reduce rubbish/materials where a snake could shelter.
  • Wear gloves and boots when moving stored materials and rubbish - these will give some protection.
  • An increased awareness of snakes is the best protection. The snake will not be looking for you, so be alert and on the lookout for snakes.

SNAKE-BITE STEPS

Remember that you are unlikely to die after being bitten by a snake, especially if you follow first aid steps.

  • Call an ambulance immediately. Treat any snake bite as an emergency, regardless of whether you think the snake was venomous or not.
  • Don't panic and don't move. Venom moves through your lymphatic system and lymph fluid moves when you move your limbs. Take deep breaths to help you stay still and calm.
  • Leave the snake alone. A further bite could occur if you try to identify, catch, injure or kill the snake.
  • Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and splint. See instructions below.
  • Don't wash, suck, cut or tourniquet the bite. These actions can cause more harm and make it more difficult for hospital staff to treat you2.

FIRST AID FOR LOWER LIMB

  1. As soon as possible, apply a broad pressure bandage (or any stretchy material) from below the bite site, upward on the affected limb (starting at the fingers or toes, bandaging upward as far as possible). Leave the tips of the fingers or toes unbandaged to allow the victim’s circulation to be checked. Do not remove pants or trousers, simply bandage over the top of the clothing.
  2. Bandage firmly as for a sprained ankle, but not so tight that circulation is prevented. Continue to bandage upward from the lower portion of the bitten limb.
  3. Apply the bandage as far up the limb as possible to compress the lymphatic vessels.
  4. It is vital to now apply a splint. Bind a stick or suitable rigid item over the initial bandage to splint the limb. Secure the splint to the bandaged limb by using another bandage, (if another bandage is not available, use clothing strips or similar to bind). It is very important to keep the bitten limb still.
  5. Bind the splint firmly, to as much of the limb as possible, to prevent muscle, limb and joint movement. This will help restrict venom movement. Seek urgent medical assistance now that first aid has been applied3.

FIRST AID FOR HAND OR FOREARM

  1. As soon as possible, apply a broad pressure bandage from the fingers of the affected arm, bandaging upward as far as possible. Bandage the arm with the elbow in a bent position, to ensure the victim is comfortable with their arm in a sling. Leave the tips of the fingers unbandaged to allow the victim’s circulation to be checked.
  2. Bind a splint along the forearm.
  3. Use a sling to further prevent limb movement

FIRST AID FOR BITES TO THE TRUNK (BODY)

  1. Call 000 for an ambulance
  2. If possible, apply firm pressure over the bitten or stung area. Do not restrict chest movement. Keep the patient still. Have the patient taken immediately by ambulance to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.

FIRST AID FOR BITES TO THE HEAD OR NECK

  1. Call 000 for an ambulance
  2. No first aid for bitten or stung area. Keep the patient still. Have the patient taken immediately by ambulance to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.

 

Source 

  1. Preventing and Managing Snake Bites. Health and Safety Fact Sheet. QLD Govt Health. Last updated May 2018. Available from URL: http://education.qld.gov.au/health/pdfs/healthsafety/snake-bites-fact-sh...
  2. Top 5 things you need to do if you get bitten by a snake. QLD Government. 18 Feb 2019. Available from URL: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/what-to-do-if-you-get-bit...
  3. Top 5 things you need to do if you get bitten by a snake. QLD Government. 18 Feb 2019. Available from URL: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/what-to-do-if-you-get-bit...

 

 

 

 

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