Author Topic: SNAKEBITES... facts and first aid for non-physicians  (Read 23622 times)

Offline Doc K

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Re: SNAKEBITES... facts and first aid for non-physicians
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2010, 08:28:35 PM »
So lets say its TEOTWAWKI and my son or daughter or wife or whatnot gets bit by a copperhead or rattler(these two seem to be the most prevelant in my areas), what do I need to do exactly? any kind of kit I can prepare for a snakebite trauma?

#1  Avoid venomous snakes TEOTWAWKI.  Since MOST people in the U.S. who are bit by snakes are messin' with them in the first place, almost all snakebites in the U.S. are provoked.  Don't be that person.

#2  If you, or a loved one, is bitten by a snake, and you will not have access to medical care (not because you are too stubborn or stupid to go to the ER), I would recommend the following (I'll kind of quote myself here a bit from above):

 - Know the snakes in your area.  As Jack would say, “Be situationally aware!”  If you can identify the snake as non-venomous, then you have much less worry about.
 - Stay calm (both patient and victim)
 - Basic First Aid: Clean the wound with lots of clean (i.e. drinkable) water.  Irrigate the wound a whole lot, and you will decrease your chance of an infection.
 - Minimize Activity
 - Remove tight clothing or jewelry in anticipation of swelling
 - Use pen to mark and time border of swelling (useful to monitor swelling progression or improvement)
 - Maintain extremity in neutral position (this just helps to slow the spread of the venom, so you don't get hit with it all at once)
 - Monitor the victim's blood pressure.  If it starts to drop substantially, you are in trouble.   This is a sign of shock (the blood vessels are opening wide and blood is pooling instead of circulating - to be as simple as possible.) Keep their head lower than the rest of their body to keep blood going to the brain.  If you know how to place an IV, it should have been placed as soon as the person got to you.  Now would be the time to give IV fluids through that IV.  If you do not have the ability to give IV fluids, there is not a whole lot more to do other than pray they make it through.  Rectal fluids - yes that is possible -  is too slow of a route for shock, but if I had nothing else, I may try it.  Compression wraps - basically ACE wraps around the legs and arms to keep blood pressure up is also a last ditch effort. 
 - If the victim starts bleeding from the nose, mouth, rectum, vagina, or other orifice, this is also a very bad sign.  It means that their coagulation system has gone haywire from the venom.  Nothing you can do without full blown medical care.

Bottom Line:  Without antivenom, you are really just hoping the person can handle the venom load without dying.

The good news is that the majority of people in the U.S. who do not get antivenom survive venomous snake bites (we don't know the number of people who get envenomated and get NO medical care though).  This is because our snakes are not as deadly as those in Australia for example.

Hope this helps,
Doc K