Dangerous Venomous Snake Bite Treatment, Snake Pastor Bitten

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Allow me to explain the steps in dangerous or venomous snake bite treatment when in a survival situation and to give a few stories on the few deaths caused, like the snake pastor bitten.

Let me first say that snake bites have only accounted for four deaths in the U.S. in the last four years.  This is one death a year, yet people are terrified of all snakes, not just the venomous ones.  You much more of a chance of getting struck by a car while walking or getting into a car accident.  In 2012, there were 34,080 deaths in automobile related accidents.  Heck, 23 people died in 2013 alone from lightning strikes.

I am going to discuss the deaths first so you will see the trend of why these people died of snake bite:

2010: The Snake bite of William Price, 67, Male

Price was bitten by a rattlesnake in the right ankle while wading across a stream in Cuyamaca, CA.  He stopped breathing within minutes of the bite, but must have been recovered, because he was said to have died after being airlifted to Palomar Medical Center.  This guy was known to be extremely allergic to venom and that the snake was extremely large, telling by the bite marks.

2011: The Snake bite of Wade Westbrook, 26, Male

Westbrook was bitten above the right elbow by a copperhead, near Chattanooga, TN, WHILE HANDLING IT and attempting to determine the snake’s sex, which is a tube that is extremely uncomfortable for the snake.  He tried using a venom extraction tool, but collapsed and died.  The cause was determined to be anaphylactic shock.

2012: The Snake bite of Mark Randall Wolford, 44, Male

Wolford was bitten in the thigh because he was HANDLING a timber rattler during a religious ceremony in McDowell County, WV. He DID NOT SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION at first, but ended up later being taken to the hospital.

2014: The Snake bite of Jamie Coots, 42, Male

Coots was bitten in his right hand in Middlesboro, KY while HANDLING a rattlesnake during a church service.  He REFUSED MEDICAL TREATMENT due to religious beliefs.  His wife even signed the form declining treatment for her husband.  He was pronounced dead about an hour after the ambulance crew left.

So, tell me what these all have in common?

  • Men
  • Handling snakes
  • Medical treatment

Moral of the story: don’t be an idiot.  What I did NOT tell you was all of the idiots that actually did survived.

Now that we realize that snake bites are not all that common, what is the typical treatment for a bite?  Treatment for a venomous bite is anti-venin.  Anti-venin is really just a serum of animal and/or human antibodies that can neutralize the components in the venom.  Sad thing is that some people die from the anti-venon.  They usually only give it when there are no other options at the hospital.

But what if you can’t get to medical treatment?  What if you are remote backpacking and it will be a very long time before you will get attention?  What if it was a Mad Max beyond Tunderdome, all-out, global TEOTWAWKI scenario?

Now I get to the main topic.  I want to keep your chances of survival up in the unlikely event of a venomous snake bite when you cannot get to medical attention.  My strategies listed here are very closely based off those written by Joseph Alton, MD, Doom and Bloom.

If someone is bitten by a snake, follow this strategy:

  1. Keep the victim calm, reducing blood flow, to slow the spread of venom into the system.
  2. Don’t move the injured extremity.  Moving it moves venom into the circulatory system.  Do your best to keep it still.
  3. Clean the wound as thoroughly as possible so you can remove venom that isn’t too deep.
  4. Swelling is going to occur, so remove all jewelry and watches.
  5. Keep the extremity that was bitten below the heart, which slows the spread.
  6. Using compression bandages, like an ACE bandage, begin wrapping 2-4 inches above the bite, moving up, and then back down over the bite, and then several inches down past it toward the end of the extremity.  Wrap it about as tight as a sprained ankle.  If it is wrapped too tight it may be uncomfortable and cause patient to move the limb more, which helps the spread.
  7. No tourniquets.  These are meant for blood loss when life is threatened.  They will do more harm than good.
  8. I do this on every injury that I get, that I think will swell or grow.  I use this on spider bites, ring worms, and more.  Draw a circle around the affected area.  You can easily see if it is getting worse or better.  Do this to visually gage any reaction or infection.
  9. Rest or even immobilize the extremity with a sling or splint.
  10. Keep the patient resting for the next 48 hours.

I hope with my arguments against the likelihood of snake bite, and being equipped with the knowledge of what to do in the worst case scenario, you would be empowered to enjoy the outdoors in the coming warmer months.  Enjoy life instead of being afraid of everything.  But, be vigilant, because you can avoid incident with most snakes if you just watch around for them.

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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