In Health

New South Wales Ambulance Service

SNAKE SEASON!

Victor P Taffa

The Ambulance Service of NSW and Australian Reptile Park would like to remind members of the community of the need to keep an eye out for snakes and spiders this summer.

Ambulance Service of NSW has responded Paramedic’s to over 20 cases of Snake Bites across NSW in the past month, perhaps reflecting the high incidence of wet, overcast but warm conditions intermingled with spells of hot dry day’s ideal conditions for the movement of many species of snakes as well as funnel-web and redback spiders.

New South Wales Ambulance Service recommends the following precautions be taken to reduce the risk of snake bite:

  • If you come across a snake, leave it alone and walk away. A snake will usually not bite unless it feels threatened.
  • Never touch or attempt to catch snakes (It is thought approximately 70% of snake bites occur from people trying to touch or them).
  • Wear sensible, closed-in footwear when in high-risk areas.
  • Be very vigilant and watch where you are walking when in areas that snakes may inhabit.
  • When bushwalking remain on clearly defined designated tracks and wear long pants.

If someone is the victim of a snake bite, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for Ambulance, remain on the line whilst details of the incident are obtained and an Ambulance is dispatched. It is important to STAY CALM!

Paramedics offer the following tips to reduce the severity of the snake bite:

  • If it is safe to do so, remove the patient from risk of further injury or bites. DO NOT attempt to catch the snake!
  •  Once both you and the patient are safe, apply a pressure bandage over the bite site and then wrap the bandage down to the extremities and then back up the limb. The bandage should NOT cut off circulation; it should be about the same pressure that you would apply to a sprained ankle.
  • A crepe roller bandage, as used by Paramedics and available at all chemists, is the best item for use as a pressure bandage however in the bush you may need to improvise. You may need to use more than one bandage.
  • If the bite is not on a limb, apply direct, firm pressure to the bite site with your hands.
  • Do not remove clothing if the snake has bitten through the clothes.
  • Keep the patient still and discourage them from walking around. If the bite is on a limb, splint the limb to stop any movement.
  • NEVER cut or excise the wound.
  • DO NOT attempt to suck the venom out.
  • DO NOT apply a tourniquet, as this may complicate the injury.

New South Wales Ambulance Service recommends that all persons undertake a first aid course with an accredited agency, particularly if you are regularly involved in outdoor activities.

When calling a Ambulance it is important to provide the following information if available:

  • Is the patient conscious
  • Is the patient having difficulty breathing
  • Is it a suspected or witnessed bite
  • Does the patient have a single or multiple bites
  • How, when and where was the patient bitten
  • Type and timing of symptoms

Mary Rayner, General Manager of the Australian Reptile Park said “We’ve had a huge increase in the volume of snake-ID requests via our website: www.reptilepark.com.au as well as phone calls, often from distraught NSW residents seeking assurance that visiting brown snakes and the like are just passing through their properties.”

Kristie Sky from Ambulance Service of NSW said “we have recently seen an increase in the number of emergencies involving snake bites. With the weather at the moment creating ideal conditions for the movement of snakes and spiders we are urging people to take extra care when out and about sharing common territory.”

In the event of a medical emergency Dial Triple Zero (000); ask for Ambulance and remain on the line whilst details of the incident are obtained. Vital first aid information can be given to you whilst Ambulance is dispatched.

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