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Snake bites on the rise say SA Ambulance


 SA Ambulance Service has warned people to be vigilant as the weather heats up and snakes become more active in gardens, parks and bushland across the state. In the first six days of November there were five snake bites reported in SA. By comparison, in November last year there wasn’t a snake bite reported until 12 November.

SA Ambulance issued a timely reminder to have a snake bite plan, symptoms to be aware of and what to do until professional assistance arrives.

Just as importantly they have issued an important reminder  of what not to do.  Do not: · wash, cut or suck the venom from the bite. · walk the victim around · apply a tourniquet

Last year, there were 43 snake bites in the entire year, while this year there have already been 47, and summer is yet to come.

The highest number of bites for any month in the last two years was eight, which occurred in December 2012 and again in February and March this year.

With nearly one snake bite a day for the first week of this month, and November to March being the most dangerous period, SA Ambulance Service Intensive Care Paramedic Simon Leonard urged people to be wary when outdoors.

“With the warmer weather we’re seeing an increase in snake activity, across both metro and country areas.

“Of the 47 bites so far this year, the highest number have been in country areas,” he said.

This year there have been snake bites reported from Stirling North and Coober Pedy, to Nangwarry and Hindmarsh Island.

Mr Leonard said there are simple, lifesaving tips you can follow if you or someone near you is bitten.

“Keep the victim and especially any bitten limb as still as possible and call triple zero (000) for expert emergency medical assistance,” Mr Leonard said.

SA Ambulance Service also advised people to have a snake bite plan and to treat all snake bites as potentially serious.

In the case of a snake bite, the patient should be kept still and a firm bandage should quickly be applied along the whole bitten limb.

“Firm bandaging along the entire length of the limb, including over the bite site, and keeping the limb as still as possible delays movement of the venom into the bloodstream,” he said.

“If people don’t have a bandage available, items of clothing can be used to apply pressure over the bite site and limb.

“Use any cloth material that is capable of applying a firm and even compressing force over the bite area and limb.

“It is important not to take the original makeshift bandage off; just bandage over the top of it as soon as a proper bandage is available.”

Calling triple zero (000) is vital, as SA Ambulance Service provides life-saving advice over the phone until ambulance personnel arrive at the scene.

Mr Leonard said it is important not to wash venom off a bitten area as it can be used to work out which type of snake had bitten the person and which treatment may be needed at hospital.

On average, three people in Australia die as a result of snake bites each year, but Mr Leonard said this number can be reduced.

“With appropriate first aid applied immediately after being bitten, this number can be lessened further.”

Have a snake bite plan:

· Wear sturdy, enclosed footwear and long pants when bushwalking.

· Look carefully before placing hands under low vegetation.

· Carry at least two 15 cm elasticised crepe bandages when bushwalking.

· Have a mobile phone with you and call triple zero (000) if you are bitten.

· Know where you are so you can describe your location to SA Ambulance Service.

Signs and symptoms of snake bite may include:

· puncture marks, scrapes or scratches on the skin

· nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea

· headache

· double or blurred vision

· droopy eyelids

· shallow or absent breathing

· swallowing or speaking difficulties

· drowsiness

· pain or tightness in chest or abdomen · limb weakness or paralysis · muscle tenderness.

What to do if someone is bitten by a snake:

· Call triple zero (000) for emergency medical assistance.

· Keep the victim calm.

· Ensure they remain as still as possible.

· Quickly apply a broad pressure bandage firmly over the bite site and extend the bandage to cover the entire length of the limb.

· Apply a splint to further restrict movement of the limb.

· Wait for expert medical treatment to arrive by paramedics or ambulance officers.

Do not:

· wash, cut or suck the venom from the bite. · walk the victim around · apply a tourniquet

Contributor: S Lowe

Source: SA Ambulance

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