IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING A SNAKE BITE:

  1. Try to safely and quickly identify the species of snake if practical. Move victim to safety. Have one person take firm command of the situation very early to improve the coordination and decision making processes. The victim's condition is assisted with an observation that calm and competent assistance is being firmly applied. There will be no time for shy or timid behavior! Action will be crucial! Proceed with no delay to use judgment calls on all of the below suggested techniques.
  2. Remove any jewelry or tight fitting clothing. Quickly tie a light restricting band both above and below the bite area a few inches away from the puncture/bite marks.
  3. Without cutting, apply strong suction, preferably within seconds of the bite directly on the main or deepest puncture/bite marks. This can be accomplished with the mouth or a commercial bite kit suction device. Time is critical here as any venom present will become destructive very quickly!
  4. Rapidly apply antiseptic cleanser to the entire area and place cold compress as closely as possible without interfering with suction process.
  5. Continue strong suction and alternate the location of compress to avoid injury from severe cold.
  6. Check constriction bands periodically as swelling may occur and loosen as appropriate.
  7. Monitor for symptoms of shock and be prepared to administer appropriate treatment. At any signs of major stress or unusual/unexplained discomfort, check for need to apply other first aid techniques - elevate bitten extremity, elevate legs from lying down position, keep warm, immobilize, etc. Do not administer alcohol or cause additional stress to victim. Avoid food or liquid intake.
  8. Keep victim warm and immobilize as practical. Movement to proper treatment facility is more crucial than maintaining immobile status. Maintain above treatment functions throughout.
  9. Transport safely at the earliest possible time to competent medical service. Ideally, all of the above steps can be administered concurrently with transport phase. Keep victim as comfortable as possible and reassure that survival is not in question. Rapid response reduces damage levels.
  10. If possible and voluntarily chosen, administer electroshock to bite area in several one second bursts in a small circle around bite. Repeat this at 10-15 minute intervals getting slightly farther from bite area seeking to follow course of venom flow. Take care to utilize DC current at proper levels and prepare in advance to administer this technique.
  11. If practical, dispatch snake and take along for any identification or testing needs. The primary purpose of this first aid is to slow down or reduce the invasion of the venom, to protect the victim from further side effect trauma, to prepare the victim for later medical procedures such that complications may be minimized, and generally to get the victim to such treatment as quickly and safely as practical.
  12. Stand by for back up assistance or side task assignments like contacting relatives, protecting scene materials, providing useful information of incident facts, describe first aid administered, etc.
  13. Be confident that all which could have been done was applied to assure as successful an outcome as possible given that a venomous bite is difficult to control or establish a completely accurate prognosis. Remember, early treatment is better treatment when such a bite occurs!

Contact us at:

Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch
POB 1655 D
Weatherford, Texas 76086
snake@wf.net

Authored by CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS. This page last updated on 05/10/97.
Copyright 1997 CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS & TNE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
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