A young man lost

Story in today's paper regarding the young Melbourne man missing since Dec 13th.

His body was found yesterday, 95k south of Coober Pedy & only 4k off the main highway. His ute had become bogged in the sand.
It seems that while he was collecting sticks to put under the wheels for traction, he was bitten by a snake & has died before being able to extract the vehicle from the sand.

Looking at the photos of the vehicle, he was not in the slightest way prepared for travelling in the desert alone.

It's another sad reminder to all of us. BE PREPARED for anything. Don't head into unfamiliar country alone, or without extensive research on the area & all of the suitable recovery equipment. (and know how to use it)

Condolences to his family.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:06

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:06
That's Dane Kowalski right? I've been following that story and had seen on FB that his body had been found but had at the time I didn't get any details so thanks very much for posting the story. Such a terribly sad tragedy.

But this just goes to show how easy it for your life to be in serious jeopardy when bad luck strikes. The real tragedy is that no one knew where to look for him. If he had been using a tracking service such as EOTrackMe then his position would be available to family and authorities to easily location him.

I urge all Members to ensure they activate their free EOTrackMe service even if for the unlikely event of a personal mishap such as this.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:20

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:20
Tragically, it does highlight that whilst getting bogged, or a flat tyre, or something seemingly as innocuous as those things may not be life-threatening in their own right, it is the potential for knock-own consequences, which in this case was a snake bite that can be.

And whilst no-one wants to be an expert in hindsight I think your point is particularly valid for travellers anywhere – you don’t have to be remote to be in trouble.

Cheers, Baz
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:58

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:58
Hi

Doesn't EOTrackMe require phone signal to transmit current location (and a data plan)? Not available over most of Australia (especially if you are not with Telstra) but handy for updating/informing others of your travel path when it is I suppose. If he did in fact have phone reception suspect a phone call may have been best first option.

Very bad luck and very sad.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 23:47

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 23:47
This highlights why everyone should carry a PLB - irrespective of what other means of communication they carry.
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Reply By: Tony H15 - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:19

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:19
I think you probably mean the vehicle isn't a 4x4. As you can't see under the tonneau and have no idea what's in the cab, no telling what he has in there. Not everybody carries their hi lifts, ramps, shovels, winches etc, where all can see. You are probably right, but I think it probably wise to wait until the police and coroner's reports are released.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:27

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:27
It was my understanding he was driving a 4x4 Hilux ute?
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 13:06

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 13:06
Rodeo, by the sounds.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 15:32

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 15:32
From the photos in this link it's a twin cab Rodeo.
I'm not sure if it's a 4x4 model.


http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/missing-man-dane-kowalski-body-found-in-desert-near-coober-pedy/story-fni6uo1m-1227261050716
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Follow Up By: Tony H15 - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:35

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:35
It's an LX Rodeo, it doesn't have a 4x4 badge on the tailgate and looks rather low (even though tyres are dug in) for a 4x4, I think it was probably a 4x2. Pure bad luck, get bitten by a snake out there, you can be prepared as you like but if you haven't got anti venom with you, nothing is going to help you.
I suppose you have a choice: bandage up, and sit down and rest so slowing the venom's effect and hope to be found in time, or dig your way out speeding up the venom's effect and hope you can get to a hospital in time. Which do you think would be the best option.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:52

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:52
I'd be going for the bandage treatment Tony. While there's life, there's hope.

Back in early '80's we were on a station on the Barkly Tablelands, when one young bloke got bitten, about daylight, on a lower leg by a King Brown that had crawled into his swag through the night. They took him to the station, 110 kms in around an hour, then flew him to Tennant Creek in station aircraft. Probably another hour plus there.

Got him to hospital, few days there and he was okay. Did say it was all good until they took the bandages off, then a lot of discomfort.

Other case was near Rockhampton. Bloke in his 50's was separated from his two companions and when they found him he was already dead. Supposed to have been attacked by a taipan, and died quite quickly.

If I had a choice, I'd pass on both counts!!!

Bob

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Follow Up By: Tony H15 - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 20:57

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 20:57
Sorry typo, I should add bandaging up first in both cases would be obligatory. so the question would be:

bandage up, and sit down and rest so slowing the venom's effect and hope to be found in time, or bandage up then dig your way out speeding up the venom's effect and hope you can get to a hospital in time. Which do you think would be the best option.

Unfortunately, bandaging up won't stop the venom only slow it.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 20:32

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 20:32
Got it from good authority, but haven't ever confirmed it . . .
I asked about what to do if alone and envenomated by a snake, with no likelyhood of assistance coming anytime soon.

Was advised the usual PIT, then get comfortable and keep movement to an absolute minimum.
Basically lay up with shelter if possible, and food / water available at your side.

All venom is supposed to lose toxicity the longer it's in your system . . . the Lymphatic system, until it reaches Lymph nodes (groin / armpits / other such as near jawbone) and enters the bloodstream, then you're in a bit of bother.
After 3 or 4 days, if chance of being located is still slim and it is safe to do so, the advice given was to then walk out slowly, using an aid like a branch to act as a crutch if needed, or drive out but using the affected limb etc as little as possible.

The medico that gave us talks on the subject is very well respected in this field, and it makes sense that the body works to neutralise the toxins, and I imagine the toxins themselves break down fairly quickly too.

I will try and confirm.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 21:21

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 21:21
Another little fact I recall about venom, you can drink it and it won't affect you, well apart form maybe a bit queezy at the thought.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:53

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:53
What newspaper was the article in?
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:54

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 12:54
Found the article.
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 13:05

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 13:05
"Looking at the photos of the vehicle, he was not in the slightest way prepared for travelling in the desert alone"
That's a bit rough isn't it?
Sounds to me more like bad luck than bad preparation......could have happened to anyone..........
AnswerID: 550061

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:40

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:40
Hi Louwai

Yes a vet sad way to alone like that. One question that no one has asked, is why was he 6 kilometres from the Stuart Highway and bogged where he was. All of the station tracks on Ingomar Station are hard packed gibber roads and there is a main track into the station to the homestead ( homestead about 40 km west of the highway) and then a very good dirt road from the homestead to Coober Pedy, which was once part of the original Stuart Highway.

Thoughts to his family.


Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:46

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:46
If you look at the photohere he appears not to be on any track or road.

And they also say it was a Holden Rodeo. Are they 4WD?
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:57

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 14:57
Solved that question as well. It was reported as a dual cab and 4WD. Thanks Phil
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Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 16:54

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 16:54
This is so very sad, I agree with most of what has been said.
I find it very strange,(( and I too have been following this story.)

Given the position where he was eventually found, seems incredible that he wasn't found much sooner.
I can't understand how the car could've been missed if an areal search was done?
We've traveled the Stuart Highway since the 1960's before it was bitumen and around the Coober Peedy area.
Sadly,Snake bite especially if he panicked was very bad luck.

Condolences to his family & friends.
Take care ,Safe Travels. Ma
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:57

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 18:57
Hi vkidx

Thats the point I was finding strange, as he must have been travelling cross country to become bogged.

There are a number of places within 1 kilometre of so from the main highway where he could have camped and still been on good hard packed tracks.



Cheers


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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 19:39

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 19:39
Lets wait until we get a formal report. Not necessarily cross country. Maybe a measily ten feet off the road/track where he decided to sleep.

We can't see enough and lets face it the media will always "dramatise" what little real facts they do have.
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 19:04

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 19:04
Yeah, was thinking about this a fair bit today, a bad series of events for the young fella, and so many little things that could have prevented his passing away out there.

A mobile with Telstra coverage MAY have had reception near the highway, but a UHF most likely would have been able to reach (most reports I have read put him 4km off the Stuart, possibly to get away from the highway for a sleep ?).
As mentioned, a spot or other such tracker, or ciggy packet size PLB would have alerted to an emergency, and provided searchers with a precise position.

If Dane had a suitable fist aid kit, and known how to do pressure immobilisation on the snake bite, he WOULD have survived.
The only people to die from snake bite in Aust have not done the right (or any) first aid, or been highly allergic to the toxin (very rare).

We don't know if he had enough water to sit it out quietly for a few days, but if so, he could have survived even an Eastern Brown, Mulga (King Brown) or even an Inland Taipan bite using the right techniques and remaining calm.

Such a tragic waste of a young life, and VERY similar location to another that went missing and perished in mid 2011, this was another Vic fella but travelling from Darwin to Ballarat Vic.

I feel so for the mother especially, she has been through a lot reading the news articles.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 20:56

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 20:56
I agree with you Les and was going to say a similar thing about the snake bite and that his fate was not sealed by the bite

Such a tragic loss
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Reply By: TerraFirma - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 22:39

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 22:39
Very sad result. We may never know why he ventured off the highway and if he was bitten by an inland Taipan not sure what would have saved him being so far away. Reported as the world's most venomous snake he would have needed urgent medical attention and anti-venom. Certainly shows that a simple wrong turn along with very bad luck can suddenly put you in a life threatening scenario. I guess as far as taking on the outback you can never be too prepared, better phone coverage would be a great start.!

Condolences to Dane and his family, by all reports a very nice bloke.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 22:44

Monday, Mar 16, 2015 at 22:44
Quote Les "If Dane had a suitable fist aid kit, and known how to do pressure immobilisation on the snake bite, he WOULD have survived.
The only people to die from snake bite in Aust have not done the right (or any) first aid, or been highly allergic to the toxin (very rare).

We don't know if he had enough water to sit it out quietly for a few days, but if so, he could have survived even an Eastern Brown, Mulga (King Brown) or even an Inland Taipan bite using the right techniques and remaining calm."

Yeah good point Les I wonder how many people are aware of current anti-venom immobilisation techniques
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 00:49

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 00:49
At the location Dane Kowalski was found (95km SW of Coober Pedy), the chances of him being bitten by an Inland Taipan are remote - because it's way outside their habitat area of extreme SW QLD.

I'd hazard a guess he was bitten by a King Brown. Picking up wood lying on the ground without being alert to the possibility of snakes is a trap for young and old.

Bottom line is that travelling alone in the bush is an extremely risky move - and more so if you have made no provision for checks on your location, and no provision for a search to start, when you don't turn up.

A very sad episode, but one that could have been avoided with getting some sensible advice about travelling alone and going off-road alone, before he left.
The Outback is no place to be taking chances on everything going well.
Generally when things go wrong, they go wrong in multiples, and at the worst time.
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Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015 at 11:58

Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015 at 11:58
Just wanted to add this image in case people wanted to put it in their first aid kit.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015 at 13:10

Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015 at 13:10
thanks - do you have a direct link that I can print from? That image is a bit out of focus and does not print well enough to read properly.

Cheers

Garry
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Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 15:37

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 15:37
Hi Gary,
Sorry for late reply.
The Snake Bite First Aid Diagram.
www.paradisefirstaid.com.au or training@paradisefirstaid.com.au
Bye Ma.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 17:45

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 17:45
Garrycol - This looks like cheap insurance against snakebite, for outback travel ...

Snakebite kit in pouch

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 17:53

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 17:53
Thanks for that Ma - printed off and now in my First Aid Box
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Reply By: equinox - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 00:07

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 00:07
Let's not all get carried away with what might have been, he should have done this, he should have done that..

How many deaths by snake bite are there really? One bloke out of a population of 24 million or so (with respect).

There is chance of death around every corner if you're not looking.

No need to lobby the regulators just yet. This is not a common occurrence.

Cheers
Alan

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.
"Outback Yonder"


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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 15:59

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015 at 15:59
No disrespect to the family of Dane, but given this discussion about snakes it seems a timely opportunity to talk about snake bite treatment/safety advice and I'd like to refer your attention to our article - Snake Bite Treatment

Most snake venom reaches the blood stream via the lymphatic system. Research has shown that very little venom reaches the circulation, even after several hours, if the Pressure Immobilisation Technique is applied immediately and maintained.

At the 2010 ExplorOz National Gathering, our guests were treated to a workshop by snake expert and outback survival instructor Bob Cooper who has incredible real-life experiences. The article I've linked above summarises the technique he demonstrated at the workshop and has been compiled with his (and the RFDS) recommendations. If you read this article you'll note there is some linked Forum Posts in the Discussion tab at the bottom from 2012 that debates the specific Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) suggested in the article, and upon reading that post again today (Thread 98984, I followed some of the suggested links from those posters. The main authority quoted was the ARC (Australia Resuscitation Council) guidelines for Pressure Immobilisation Technique (Guideline 9.4.8). If you read this you'll actually see that it in fact agrees with the techniques outline in our article. Some quotes from the ARC guidelines:

"There is insufficient evidence to determine which technique or method of bandage application is most effective in the field"... "Furthermore
whilst commencing the encircling bandage distally and moving proximally may improve
comfort and tolerance of the bandage, it may act to increase venom movement. Starting proximally and working distally may further minimise venom movement but may cause distal oedema /fluid retention and make the bandage too uncomfortable for prolonged use. Training (using manometer feedback) has been shown to improve the pressure achieved with PIT, and the use of elasticised bandages may also improve the pressure obtained in PIT application." in minimizing venom absorption.

Attendees at Bob's snake workshop might recall that he discussed this too. The ARC guidelines also confirm the advice in our article about using elastic bandages and where to start the bandaging. "If on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible.. Elasticised bandages (10-15cm wide) are preferred over crepe bandages, if neither are available, clothing or other material should be used."

But don't get caught up on the bandaging technique - its the immobilisation that is the critical component to staying alive. You must keep the victim and limb completely at rest.

Again quoted from the ARC "Bring transport to the victim if possible. If they are unable to obtain urgent help to come to them, then apply local pressure if possible,
immobilisation is contraindicated and they should move themselves to seek urgent help".

Furthermore, all snake bites should be considered venomous. Some bite victims do not immediately present with symptoms and unfortunately some have "walked" a short distance to get help and have died as a result.

As the circumstances are all too real for many in our audience it serves as a reminder that we must be vigilant of outback travel risks and always think through worst case scenarios. We should always be considering our risks and refreshing our first aid skills.

My most sincere condolences to Dane's family.
Michelle Martin
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 20:20

Thursday, Mar 19, 2015 at 20:20
That is all VERY good and up to date info Michelle.

Can I add, practicing PIT bandaging on ones self (and loved ones willing to sit around for an hour) is VERY worth while doing.
This was a regular activity during many a snake catching training session, so people had an idea of just how tight to apply bandages to themselves and others.

Too loose and it's not effective, too tight and you risk harming the limb by affecting circulation.
The overwhelming nature of bandaging someone up is to do the wrapping too tight, compression bandages are pretty well named.
It's important to leave bandages on for a good while (hence the hour mentioned above) as it takes a bit of time for circulation to be affected sometimes.

Splinting is fairly easy with a few triangular bandages and a stout stick.

Remember, besides snake bite, PIT is the first aid for Funnel Web Spider and Blue Ring Octopus.
You don't use it for other spider bites, jelly fish, stone / Lion fish, or other stings like fire ants or scorpions.
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