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First aid if bitten by a venomous snake:

Do not wash the wound site.

Do not cut the wound.

Place an elastic bandage over the wound site and bandage as far down the limb as possible, then back up the limb as far as possible.

Call 000 for an ambulance

 

Keep the patient as quiet as possible. This can be hard, but remember stress and fear will be the most visible signs in most cases of snake bite and should be treated accordingly.
Call an ambulance and get to a hospital immediately.

Do not ask the patient to walk to a vehicle for transport, bring the vehicle to the patient, the less movement on the part of the patient, the better.

Identification of the snake is not necessary, so do not attempt to capture or kill the snake to take to the hospital, most hospital staff cannot positively identify a snake.

The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have produced a snakebite detection kit, which has been issued to all major hospitals through out Australia. This kit enables the hospital staff to safely take a swab from the wound site and after testing they are able to tell which anti-venom is the correct one to use. If the test is inconclusive, then a polyvalent serum may be administered.

I feel very sorry for our venomous snakes, most of us are frightened of them, and in many cases the snake suffer due to our fear. They are not interested in attacking us; they will usually try as hard as they can to get away.

If you find a snake inside, if possible leave it an avenue of escape, close the room of if you can, and leave doors and windows open so the snake can leave when it no longer feels threatened.

When walking outside at night or in the bush wear suitable footwear.

Do not use pressure-immobilisation first aid for:

  • spider bites other than from a funnel web spider
  • jelly fish stings
  • stonefish and other fish stings
  • bee, wasp and ant stings in non-allergic individuals
  • bites by scorpions, centipedes, beetles

 

References:

Graeme Gow’s complete guide to Australian Snakes.
WIRES Rescue and Immediate Care manual.

Queensland Poisons Information Centre

 

 

Updated January 11, 2017  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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