Published in The Standard, March 7, 2013
SOUTH WEST Healthcare is reminding people to stay calm and immediately call an ambulance if bitten by a snake.
The advice comes after 18 people suspected of having a snake bite presented at Warrnambool Base Hospital’s emergency department within the last year.
Emergency nurse practitioner Kate Sloan said yesterday good first aid would slow the spread of venom throughout the body, giving doctors more time to treat bites.
“We live in a country that has a lot of snakes and everybody should know what to do if bitten,” Ms Sloan said.
“It really isn’t difficult and anybody can do it.”
In the case of a suspected snake bite, doctors from the hospital’s emergency department advised people to:
-stay calm and still. Moving quickly will pump blood and spread venom around the body faster;
-apply a bandage firmly to the bitten limb. This also slows the movement of venom throughout the body. The hospital can take a sample of the venom from the skin to determine the necessary treatment if the wound hasn’t been washed;
-don’t cut, bite or suck the wound. Instead, immediately call an ambulance.
Emergency department director Dr Franco Schreve said the hospital stocked more than enough anti-venom for emergencies.
He said people should always call an ambulance straight away, even if unsure whether it was a snake bite.
“We don’t want people to drive to hospital or attempt to catch the snake to bring it in to show us,” he said.
“We have tests that we run to determine what type of anti-venom to use.”
Snake catcher Scott Grant said snakes were a protected species and that people should avoid harming or killing them.
“There will always be snakes around Warrnambool, particularly near the wetlands and on farms,” he said.
“People should realise snakes have their place in nature, not only as a predator but as a source of food to other animals.”