snake bite treatment

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:08
ThreadID: 21920 Views:3179 Replies:10 FollowUps:25
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Hi,
We are leaving for a Hay River trip mid year,which is rather a remote area.
To be a bit more prepared can members please advise......What teqniques, remedies are currently the correct procedure for a snake bit, given that getting to a hospital will very slow process in the event of snake bit.
I have read a small piece on activated charcoal being effective for spider bites and snake bites, apllied as a poultic, but no details on how to do this and bandage teqchnique
Would appreciate your input
With thanks
Joe
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:21

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:21
The very first remedy for snake bite is: don't get bitten. Sounds obvious but it's surprising how many people wander off through the bush in thongs (including me on the odd occasion!). Wear boots with long socks or trainers with jeans long enough not to leave any ankle exposed.

Pressure bandage, I believe, is still considered to be the most effective way of dealing with snake bite and my understanding is that if the victim is bandaged early enough and keeps calm and still afterwards even the most potent venom can be kept at bay for 12 to 16 hours.

These two links will tell you all (and more) you need to know on the subject:
http://www.pharmacology.unimelb.edu.au/avruweb/index.htm
http://www.usyd.edu.au/anaes/venom/snakebite.html

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 105983

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:16

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:16
LOL, I'm one of those thongs people! Well I were thongs if I'm dressing up. ;-)

You've got bare foot.
Round the house thongs
and going out thongs.

:-)
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Reply By: Member - Anni M (SA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:31

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:31
Hi Joe,

Assoc. Prof Julian White of Adelaide Uni is the guru on envenomation. Here is his treatment for a snake bite. This also applies to a funnel web spider bite.

Apply a firm broad bandage or similar (even clothing strips or pantyhose will do in an emergency) over the bite site, at the same pressure as for a sprain. Do not occlude the circulation.
Apply further bandage over as much of the rest of the bitten limb as practical. Ensure fingers or toes are covered to immobilise them. It is often easiest to go over the top of clothing such as jeans, rather than moving the limb to remove clothing.
Ensure the bitten limb is kept motionless by applying a splint and instructing the patient to cease all use of the limb and any general activity.
Always seek medical help at the earliest opportunity.
If the snake has been killed, bring it with the patient, but do not waste time, risk further bites and delay application of pressure bandage and splint by trying to kill the snake.
Do not wash the wound.
Do not use a tourniquet.
Do not cut or suck the wound.
Do not give alcohol to the patient.
Do not give food and only non-alcoholic clear fluids may be used for drinks.

For first aid for spider bites apart from the Funnel web spider, Prof White says-
Reassure the patient that their life is not at major risk.
Apply an ice pack to the bit area
Seek medical advice.
Bring the spider with the patient if possible.
Do NOT use a pressure immobilisation bandage.

I hope this is some help. Have a great trip
Cheers
Anni
AnswerID: 105984

Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:25

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:25
Thanks Anni

I have printed that out and it has gone into my book of info as we are off in to the great western deserts soon.

I must say however, that I have only seen 5 or 6 snakes in 30 years of camping.
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Follow Up By: Joe - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:17

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:17
Willem,
I did the same, and thanks again Anni,
In just over 12 months I have spotted, or have been immediately near 5 snakes on High Country trips....hence my wish to be more prepared and knowledgeable.
Regards
Joe
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:25

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:25
I've had "close encounters" with three Browns over the past two years.

I'm surprised you're not familiar with the pressure immobilisation technique Willem - it's been standard treatment for at least a couple of decades? The websites I mentioned give very clear information and pics. on the matter.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Joe - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:31

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:31
Hi Mike,
I have saved those websites in my "favorites". Given the number of "views" to this thread I would say a lot of others have learnt a lot as well.
Regards
Joe
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Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:44

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:44
Mike Harding

What gave you that idea?

It is always helpful to have information ready at hand as one is not always trained up to the minute to every aspect of First Aid. I did a course some years ago and know the basics. Thats is enough for me.
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Follow Up By: D-Jack - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:43

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:43
Anni M

Last time I got bitten my mate did all the things that you said not to do, bitten in the let, he cut the bite, sucked out the blood and poison, must have been the right thing to to because..... I'm............................... still.....................(long beep)
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Follow Up By: govo - Monday, Apr 11, 2005 at 22:17

Monday, Apr 11, 2005 at 22:17
Good advise Anni....I treated 4 snake bite victims when i was a army medic back in the late 1980s and this is excatlly what we used to do.

point of note though..all bites occured thru the army general purpose boot which had good leather upper ,victims all told me that they were suprised how fast the snakes hit..it scared the hell out of them.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005 at 12:11

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005 at 12:11
>point of note though..all bites occured thru the army general
>purpose boot which had good leather upper

GP boots are pretty good but nothing is going to guarantee protection. Partly it depends upon the kind of snake - Browns, apparently, only have fangs about 3mm long whereas the Taipan has 12mm+ ones. So boots would probably provide full protection against a Brown but only limited against a Taipan but they would, most likely, reduce the amount of venom the snake could inject. _Anything_ has got to be better than bare ankles and thongs! :)

Anyone know what the current Oz Army thinking is on snake protection?

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: govo - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2005 at 09:22

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2005 at 09:22
So boots would probably provide full protection against a Brown...

ummm mike,all the diggers that we treated were bitten on or around the ankle area by brown's...also had one digger bitten on the hip by a red belly black..good thing about the black's is that there has never been a death in australia as the venom is not as lethal..sure made him pretty sick though.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2005 at 10:23

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2005 at 10:23
Hi govo

Surprising, given the short fangs of the Brown.

Suit of armour maybe...? :)

Mike Harding

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Reply By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:36

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 11:36
AS mhhas sid - dont get bitten, by far and away most snake bites are from people trying to catch/harass kill snakes. the firm bandage the lenghth of the limb and immobalization is the only recomended way of dealing with oz snakebites so dont bother getting the suction devices the yanks sell on the net. Your chances of even seeing a snake mid year are very slim
AnswerID: 105986

Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 12:42

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 12:42
Spend the $ and do a St Johns course...

Well worth the coin. You may NEVER need it, but then there will be that one time that the cost that seemed expensive at the time of asking, now is worth a billion$ to you.
AnswerID: 105991

Follow Up By: Member - Anni M (SA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 13:02

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 13:02
I can't agree enough. Everyone who drives a car should do one.
Anni
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Follow Up By: gqpat - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 13:35

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 13:35
As a One steel employee i am required to be a level 2 first aider and the amount of knowledge you get from these courses is fantastic you will be surprised at what you thought you knew and how much of it was incorrect .Do one of these courses and i bet at one time or another will save yours or someone elses life .Need to be done every 2 years to retain accreditation ...
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 14:49

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 14:49
I'll second Truckster's advice. Money well spent, what price is life?

We do a first aid course each year, on the station, and one must do CPR yearly to be accredited. Snake venom is transmitted through lymph glands, not bloodstream, and the immobility of limb, makes this a slow process. Don't get bitten on the arse!!!

Good advice to stay away from them too, they belong in that environment. Good luck on the Hay, hope you've got plenty of patches?

Hooroo...
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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FollowupID: 363072

Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 16:30

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 16:30
Won't need patches as he's got MTR's not Coopers ;-))
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Follow Up By: Big Woody - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 16:40

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 16:40
Truckster is right,
Get trained in First Aid and keep it up to date. Best investment you could make.

Brett
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Follow Up By: Joe - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 17:54

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 17:54
Thank's for all the good advice people...this forum is really appreciated..
Crackles, how do you know I have MTR's...????
Cheers
Joe
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Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:28

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:28
Crackles hahahahahaha..... best tyres for Hay are 14ply rags
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Follow Up By: Toy_Hilux - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:13

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:13
We agree with Truckster also. Though Anni, every-one should do it, accidents also happen at home aswell. Exp when ones' rugrats are very accident prone on the week-ends(like mine are).
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:48

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:48
From the reports I've seen, the Hay river route isn't too hard on tyres as groups typically average around 1 flat each. Although a 14 ply rag tyre may be perfect for the desert & may not puncture on a 6,000 km trip like this, it will however be quite useless up the Vic high country for the rest of it's 60,000 Km life.
Cheers Craig
lcool (Joe) ;-))
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Reply By: GO_OFFROAD - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:42

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 18:42
Willem, just like the gq was only a patched up mq, 14ply rags are not the answer any longer, and if you had fillings in your teeth before you left, 14 ply tyres would fix that before you got back. I think anyone who has run MTR's will testify to the tuffnes the new breed of tyre brings to the market over what has been available previously, or current.

Most of us have stopped carrying a 6th spare with MTR's, now the MTR rarely even gets a puncture if run in the best 40% of tread depth.
AnswerID: 106022

Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:26

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:26
Smart arse
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Follow Up By: GO_OFFROAD - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:32

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 20:32
I was just stating some facts on the details, but thanks for the compliment.
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Reply By: Homeboy - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:32

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 19:32
Hi Joe

A very good website that shows you what to do and how to do it if you ever get bitten by anything is http://www.avru.unimelb.edu.au/avruweb/creatable.html

Have a fantastic trip.

Sasha (Mrs Homeboy)
AnswerID: 106030

Reply By: ev700 - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 21:35

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 21:35
Hi Joe
There is a possibility of stepping on a snake on a path or in the evening. Best protection is shoes to ankle plus long pants or longer socks with sock protectors (keeps grass seeds and dirt out too!). Thongs and sandals offer no protection.

Encourage kids not to run around site on dark or later. Use torch, stay out of long grass and don't rush.

Oz snake fangs are short and venom trickles down outside (not like a hypodermic) so shoes and clothing (even lighter material) will very much reduce likelihood of skin damage and entry of venom.

Put a 15cm X 2 metre long crepe bandage in the glovebox of fourby, one in camper and carry one in day pack when hiking. 15 cm wide crepe bandage is ideal. If it is a foot or leg, start at bottom and wind past bite and as far up leg as possible (firmly, not tightly); if an arm or hand, start at fingers and go up to shoulder. Then try to keep limb still.

When collecting fire wood, turn log over and look b4 picking up. Wear leather gloves where possible - better for hands anyhow.

Tap out shoes, shake out clothing b4 putting on.
EV700
AnswerID: 106048

Follow Up By: govo - Monday, Apr 11, 2005 at 22:24

Monday, Apr 11, 2005 at 22:24
Uuum EV700..i would have to disagree with you on the bit about the fangs being short....the diggers l treated all had army GP's on..tough leather it is too
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:11

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:11
Snakes hibernate in the winter. You won't see one.

This whole thread is useful if you were going September to May. But mid-year you won't have a concern.

Cheers
Phil
AnswerID: 106057

Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:31

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:31
Sorry but I've got to disagree there Phil. On a trip to the Simpson during July we came accross a large snake that one fella in our convoy thought to be a harmless python but as he tried to pick it up it reared at him quickly. A little later it was identified as a Fierce snake, one of the most venomous species in Oz. So although they are a little rare at that time of the year they are still about.
Cheers Craig..............
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:49

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 22:49
Hi Craig,

Sure it wasn't one of those legless lizards :-)))

But seriously, snakes are rare in July/August - next one I see in those months will be my first.

Cheers
Phil
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Reply By: lazylcd - Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 23:21

Sunday, Apr 10, 2005 at 23:21
According to the latest Landcruiser commercial, u can jump in ur brand new 100 series drive like a donkey and make it to the nearest hospital within 30seconds of being bitten, Sounds great as long as u dont rely on the IFS :oD

hehehehe
all jokes aside
st johns is definatly the goer

Lazy
AnswerID: 106070

Reply By: Member - bushfix - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005 at 13:00

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005 at 13:00
G'day,

as has been indicated, prevention is better than cure....

If you are with the victim and you go to assist them, don't forget the first step of DRABC: Danger - if going to assist a victim, check for danger to yourself, not much good having two victims.
then continual monitoring of the victim's

Response
Airway
Breathing
Circulation

Rest and reassure the victim, make them as comfortable as poss. Documenting any changes in their condition is important as well as treatment for shock, which can result with delays in getting medical attention. In remote areas, you will need to decide on whether to travel to medical assistance or wait for it. As snake venom travels through the lymphatic system, rather than the blood, the bite and suck method would be of no use I reckon.

If you cannot get on a training course before your trip then at least invest in a decent first aid kit and make sure your comms are in good order as well as being suitable for your area of travel as you may be able to get help over the airwaves. If you do not have a reference book then you may also be able to describe the snake and confirm that it is non lethal, otherwise you should always assume it is lethal.

Interesting mention by Crackles of the Fierce snake, Taronga Zoo states that one bite has enough venom to kill 200,000 mice. They declare it the most venomous land dwelling snake in the world, drop for drop of venom.

AnswerID: 106342

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