by Tanzen Lilith
Despite the pervasive myth that all snakes live in the bush, they are in fact common around suburban and rural homes and gardens. For this reason, it’s important to be up to date with snake-bite first-aid. If it’s safe to do so, and only after the patient has been attended to, take a photo of the snake for identification purposes. Never try to catch or kill the snake. Medical staff don’t want the snake taken into the hospital and we don’t want anyone else to be bitten.
- Call ‘000’ and keep them on the line while you commence first-aid.
- Lie the patient down flat and keep them calm. (never wash the bite or do anything else to it).
- Apply a clean dressing over the bite to absorb any venom for testing.
- Firmly apply a small bandage directly over the bite and dressing to compress the bite.
- Next use a large compression bandage to wrap the entire limb, start at the extremities and bandage up towards the body, over the small bandage, up to armpit/groin. Leave fingers/toes visible to check for circulation (they should be pink in colour). Bandage the arm in the natural resting position with the elbow bent.
- Use a splint or a sling to immobilise the limb.
- Keep the patient calm, still and lying flat. Don’t let them use a phone etc! Any muscle movement however small will pump the venom through the body.
- Mark the location of the bite on the outside of the bandage. This way the medical staff can simply cut a hole in the bandage without the need to remove the bandage.
- Take note of the time of the bite for medical staff.
- Always bring the first-aid to the patient, never move the patient unless absolutely necessary.
Tanzen Lilith is a former registered nurse and professional snake catcher. She is the owner of SouthSide Snake Services at Greenbank and can be contacted on 0408 886 225.