Even a Scratch Could be Deadly

Filed in Recent News by October 4, 2018

“If you feel like a stick has scratched you, turn around and check none of the sticks are moving,” said snake catcher Judy Martin.

“Brown snakes don’t leave puncture wounds and their bite can feel like a scratch,” Ms Martin said.

Mark Bell, manager of Scone Ambulance said he has seen patients deteriorate quickly from a snake bite and proper first-aid is their best hope.

“We treated a patient in the Hunter who within 15 to 20 minutes of being bitten by a brown snake had deteriorated to the point of being unconscious,” said Mr Bell.

“Fortunately he was choppered to Newcastle and made a full recovery, but people can deteriorate very quickly,” he said.

“It’s important for people to call 000 immediately, rather than try and get to a hospital themselves,” he said.

“When you call 000 the health network swings into action, the local ambulance is sent, the local hospital may be notified in advance and they can have the antivenin ready, the chopper can be prepared and the hospital in Newcastle knows a patient may be on their way, all of these things can start to happen from the moment you make the call,” he said.

“The 000 operators are the best placed to give you advice for your situation and to guide you through the first aid,” he said.

“Because of how quickly a snake bite can affect you, the most important thing is to contain the venom,” he said.

“The best way to do that is with wide bandages, about 7 to 10 centimetres in width, wrap around the site of the bite firmly, wrap down below the bite, then back up the limb,” he said.

“The compression bandage must be firm enough to restrict the spread of the venom, without using other types of tourniquets which could cut off blood supply to the limb.

“Immobilising the limb and avoiding moving is important, but if you are in a paddock you obviously need to get to help, so people need to be practical,” he said.

“If you don’t have a bandage use what you have on hand, it might be some ripped clothing, it might be some sticks to immobilise, use what you can.

“It’s a good idea to have some wide compression bandages say in the glove box of the ute when you go out into the paddock, having them with you instead of back home could make all the difference,” he said.

“The important thing is not to delay and question if it was just a scratch, waiting for symptoms to start, make the call to 000 straight away and do first-aid immediately,” Mark Bell said.

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Mark Bell, manager of Scone Ambulance encourages people to have compression bandages on hand during snake season.

Mark Bell, manager of Scone Ambulance encourages people to have compression bandages on hand during snake season.