First Aid for Snake Bites
In Australia, we have many creepy crawlies that make the rest of the world wonder how we’ve survived all this time. But, us Aussies see these creatures as just a part of life down under.
While snakes are prevalent right across the world, Australia ranks number one for having the deadliest snake in the world – the Australian inland taipan.
It is estimated that one bite from this snake possesses enough venom to kill at least 100 fully grown humans.
Snakes are most active during Spring. This is when temperatures start to rise and snakes begin emerging from their hidey holes.
In preparation for Spring, we’ve compiled some information about First Aid for snake bites to make sure you are prepared.
Firstly, it’s important to note that different people have different reactions to snake bikes.
So, some of these symptoms may not appear in everyone and it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Envenomation is where venom (poison) gets into the body from bites or stings by spiders, snakes, marine creatures like jellyfish and insects like bees. The poison can be painful, disabling and potentially life threatening.
Things to look out for if you suspect you or a family member have been bitten by a snake include:
- Fang marks in the skin – either paired or single
- Headache and altered conscious state
- Double/blurred vision
- Speaking/swallowing problems
- Weakness/paralysis in extremities
- Respiratory distress – may lead to respiratory arrest – or sudden cardiac arrest
- Clotting defects
Some of these won’t be as easy to spot or for the person affected to even identify. They can also be symptoms for a number of other illnesses as well.
So, what do you do if you suspect someone has been bitten by a snake?
This will be different depending on if the patient is conscious or unconscious – just like a lot of other First Aid treatments.
If the patient is conscious:
- Conduct primary survey.
- Use pressure immobilisation technique if the bite is on the limb.
- Continually monitor the person and their ABC. (Remember – ABC stands for airways, breathing, CPR from the DRS ABCD action plan)
- Be prepared to give CPR if required.
- Reassure the patient and get them to rest and stay calm.
- Immediately call for an ambulance – Dial 000 or 112.
- If you are in an isolated/remote area, transport the person to the closest medical facility.
If the patient is unconscious:
- Clear their airways and follow DRS ABCD basic life support process.
- Call 000 or 112 for an ambulance.
If you have been able to use the pressure immobilisation technique, make sure that you clearly mark the bite site on the bandage. This allows emergency department staff to test for venom without removing the pressure immobilisation bandage.
Don’t clean the bite site as venom left on the skin or clothes can be used to identify the type of snake and which antivenom should be used.
This is basic outline of the steps for first aid for snake bites. The most important thing with any emergency is to preserve life.
Asset College delivers First Aid training right across Australia. We offer courses in standard first aid and CPR as well as Advanced First Aid. Our trainers have decades of experience treating casualties in the community and administering first aid in an occupational setting.