What is the treatment for a snake bite?

It’s that time of year when snakes warm up and start moving around again, and when people are spending more recreational time outside, a combination that can lead to close encounters of the venomous kind.

Australia is home to about 110 land snake species and about 32 sea snakes. However, 21 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world inhabit our wide brown land. Death adders, taipans, brown snakes, copperheads and tiger snakes are all classed as extremely venomous. Fortunately, death from snake bite is rare, in spite of around 3,000 snake bite reports each year – on average, fewer than 5 fatalities annually.

Around the Sunshine Coast, from Caloundra to Noosa on the coast, and from Caboolture to Nambour inland, the most commonly encountered suburban snakes are:

·         Non-venomous: coastal carpet python, common tree snake

·         Mildly venomous: white crowned snake

·         Potentially dangerous: yellow faced whip snake

·         Highly venomous: red bellied black snake, eastern brown snake.

Unfortunately, the eastern brown is responsible for most of the snake bite fatalities in Australia. This is partly because of its rapidly acting venom and partly because victims may not realise they have been bitten, which could delay treatment. The fangs are relatively small, and the bite may feel like brushing up against a stick. On the other hand, small fangs can mean that not every eastern brown bite injects venom into the body, especially if the bite occurred through shoes or clothing.

The good news is that most snakes would rather avoid human beings, and generally only attack in a close confrontation, or if they are disturbed or feel threatened. To discourage snakes from taking up residence around your home, remove any piles of unused timber or bricks or anything else that may provide a snake habitat, and try to keep the rodent population down.

Treatment for snake bite

Ensure the safety of everyone.

Call the ambulance on triple zero (000).

Treat immediately:

  • Immobilisation – keep the person still and as calm as possible to slow the spread of the venom.
  • Pressure – apply firm pressure on the bite. For bites on limbs, apply pressure bandages, and splint the limb to restrict movement; make the bite site on the bandage (this helps the paramedics and doctors). If the bite is not on a limb, apply firm direct pressure on the bite site.
  • If cardiac arrest occurs, provide cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
  • Record as much information as you can – time of the bite, description of the snake, time the bandage was applied.

Allens Training Sunshine Coast provides free downloadable first aid charts, including a chart for snake bite (and funnel web spider bite), which lists the snake bite signs and symptoms, and provides step-by-step the pressure immobilisation technique (PIT).

Allens Training also sells snake and funnel web spider bite first aid kits from our training centre at Birtinya and from our online shop.

Provide First Aid courses, which include a segment on venomous bites and stings, are run regularly at our Birtinya (Kawana) training centre and at our Noosa location.

To book into your next first aid course, please book online via our secure website, or phone 07 5438 8888.

dr. ye 20 Jul 2018 3:37 AM

I need the First Aud Training Curriculum for Field workers of community. thanks

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