Myths Persist on Treating Snakebites in Wilderness/SHTF Situations

Posted: October 21, 2014 by gamegetterII in first aid
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The current medical research shows that attempting to use a suction device or pump device found in snakebite kits may do nothing more than help spread the venom.

Some of the wilderness/backcountry survival websites still tell you to use the suction cups,or pumps like the one made by Sawyer-this is no longer the recommended treatment for poisonous snake bites !

Protocols for snakebite treatment have changed as more research is done on treating poisonous snake bites,the newest treatment recommendations are described in the following…

CDC poisonous snake bite treatment…

First Aid

Workers should take the following steps if they are bitten by a snake:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible (dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services.)
  • Try to remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom.
  • Inform your supervisor.
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get to the hospital right away.
    • Lay or sit down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Wash the bite with soap and water.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

Do NOT do any of the following:

  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it.
  • Do not wait for symptoms to appear if bitten, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a painkiller.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/snakes/                                                                                             JAMA  Poisonous Snake Bite Treatment
  • • Seek medical attention immediately after a snakebite.
    • Try to remember the shape of the snake’s head and body and the
    snake’s color to identify the type of snake and help direct the
    treatment. A photo, taken from a safe distance, may be helpful.
    • Keep calm and move around as little as possible. This may limit the
    spread of the snake’s venom. Remove anything that may constrict
    the area, such as jewelry, clothing, or shoes.
    • Do not use tourniquets or suction devices. Do not cut the area around
    the bite. These traditional remedies do not help and they may harm
    the patient, making the situation much worse.
    • A tetanus immunization may be given if you have not had one recently.
    • Antivenin, specific to the type of snake responsible for the bite, may be given in
    case of severe envenomation. This helps neutralize the effect of snake venom in
    life-threatening or limb-threatening snakebites.
    • Persons with severe symptoms (rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, severe swelling, low
    blood pressure, severe external or internal bleeding, paralysis, circulatory shock or
    collapse) may require supportive care, including oral or intravenous fluids, medications, or
    breathing treatments. Intensive care and life support may be needed for the most severe
    cases of snakebite, especially in small children or elderly persons.”

http://emergencyfirstaidcourses.ca/category/snake-bite-first-aid/

From Wilderness Utah…

“Over the years, there have been many in-the-field remedies for snakebites. Most of these therapies are as strange as our fear of snakes, and none of them work. Mostly, they increase the harm that is already being done. Even if you were told to do these in the past, DO NOT use: tourniquets, incision and suction, ice, or electric shock. Things you SHOULD DO include: step away from the snake, remove any jewelry or constrictive bands/clothing, reassure the victim, note the time the bite happened, and get moving to the hospital.

At some hospitals, there are anti-venom medicines to stop and possibly reverse the progression of the effects of envenomation. These are serious medications that play tricks on the immune system. Their use needs to be monitored at the hospital. Time to administration is of the essence–they work best if given within the first 4 hours, but you probably shouldn’t be making the victim run to get there. There is some debate about whether the victim should be using the bitten body part during evacuation. Theoretically, a large increase in blood flow could shorten the time until systemwide effects occur. Your situation may vary, but the best advice may be to just walk out.

– See more at: http://www.wildernessutah.com/learn/snakebites.html#sthash.zUAHDi1I.dpuf”

From North America Wilderness Backpacking…

The following are simple steps to take when treating a snake bite in the wilderness:

  • Identify species of snake. (Necessary for anti-venom treatment)
  • Move away from the snake.
  • Stay Calm. Keep your heart rate down. Do not panic.
  • Do not elevate the bite. Keep it below the heart.
  • Activate your Emergency Locator Beacon.

snake bite kit

  • If you’re traveling with a group, send the fastest person to the nearest place for help. Make sure they travel safely!
  • Remove any jewelry or clothing that could become constricting when the bitten area swells.
  • You can use a snake bit kit to try and siphon venom out, but this method is highly debated by professionals. Your time may be better spent with the other steps.
  • Clean the bite with soap and water or antiseptic wipe before administering any other snake bite first aid.
  • Wrap bite area tightly with ace bandage. Start below the bite and work your way up, do NOT wrap too tight, restricting circulation.
  • It’s also a good idea to immobilize or splint, if the bite is on an extremity, to prevent movement. This helps keep the venom from spreading more quickly.

    snake bite treatment

  • Remember, just because you are bitten doesn’t mean you are going to die. Venomous snake bites can be fatal, but often they are not. Just follow these steps to assure you don’t become another statistic.
  • Providing snake bite first aid is easy, but one **MUST** remain calm until help arrives.                                                                                                                                http://www.north-america-wilderness-backpacking.com/snake-bite-first-aid.html                                                                                                                                                                                                           Read.                                                                                                                                                          Learn.                                                                                                                                                         Train.                                                                                                                                                           Do More PT !

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