Flying Doctors encourage vigilance around snakes this summer

Flying Doctors encourage vigilance around snakes this summer

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The Royal Flying Doctor Service south-eastern (RFDS SE) section has updated its advice and procedures following the publication of a new ten-year study into snakebites.

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An Australian Brown Snake.

An Australian Brown Snake.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service south-eastern (RFDS SE) section has updated its advice and procedures following a ten-year study into snakebites. 

The Australian Snakebite Project is the most comprehensive ever carried out, involving over 1500 patients and collated snakebite data from 2005-2015.

“The publication of this study is very timely as the warm, dry winter and rise in temperatures has brought snakes out early,” Tracey King, senior flight nurse at RFDS SE, said.

“As venomous snakes are found in every state and territory we urge everyone, not just those in the warmer outback locations, to be vigilant,” she said.

Most snake attacks occur near houses, not in the bush. 

While only 20 to 25 out of 835 cases they studied resulted in death, the effects of a snakebite can be debilitating and far-reaching.

“That’s why it’s important that people act quickly after a possible bite,” Tracey said.

“Surprisingly, they’re often painless and may go unnoticed as tissue damage is mostly light – lacerations, scratches or light bruising along with some bleeding or swelling.

​“Common symptoms include an unexplained collapse, vomiting and abdominal pain, bleeding or paralysis.”

To stop the spread of venom, bandage firmly, splint and immobilise. 

All the major medical associations recommend slowing the spread of venom by placing a folded pad over the bite area and then applying a firm bandage.

Only remove the bandage in a medical facility.

Advice on how to respond to a snakebite can be found on the RFDS website by searching ‘snakebite’.

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