Re: First Aid question - snakebite
Michael Phelan (mphelan@BYU.EDU)
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 09:06:53 -0700
Tonioght at RT, one of the felloows gave a presentation on camping
first aid. One of the items he showed was a "power" suction cup for
snakebite. It is a tube with a plunger to pull, rather than push,
to suck the poisen. I mentioned that _I_ had been under the
impression that sucking was no longer approved for snakebite.
Any of the EMT type first aid experts have a read on that?
I'm not an EMT type, but am a certified First aid instructor. Maynard Cox
of the Clay County (Florida) Sheriff's Office (I assume he's still there)
is considered one of the country's leading authorities on snake bites. In
fact, many emergency rooms keep his phone number handy and consult with him
when they have snake bites since species dictates which anti-venom to use.
The "cut and suck" approach to snake bite is definately out of favor right
now according to Cox. Quick death (10-12 a year) from snake bites requires
several factors. Whether or not the victim was envenomated, age and health
of the victim, quantity of venom, and if the venom was injected directly
into an artery seem to be the major factors in quick death from a snake
bite (15-20 minutes). Since thousands are bit a year and only a dozen or
so die, snake bites do not require such drastic first aid as the "cut and
According to Cox, you should do *nothing* but treat for shock and get help
or transport the victim to a hospital. No ice packs, tourniquets, or folk
remedies should be applied. Death from a snake bite, other than when the
factors above are present, seems to take 10-12 hours. Unless you are very
far from a road, figures show that if you are on a paved road in the U.S.,
you are no more than 4 hours from a hospital. It seems to defy what we've
been taught, especially if you've been a Scout from the 60s and back.
There's a quality article on the subject in the November/December 1991
issue of Southern Outdoors by Wade Bourne on this subject. The article is
titled "Snakebite Savvy."
In case you're interested, the Clay County Sheriff's Office phone number is
(904) 264-6512. Maynard Cox wears a pager and if you have a snake bite
emergency, they will page him and he will return your call. If you're
hiking with Scouts in a snake area, it may be a good idea to take this
phone number with you and keep it handy in case you have a bite and have to
go to an emergency room. They may not have his number or even heard of him.
First aid, like Scouting, has many and strong opinions on subjects. This
is what I've been taught on this one, someone may feel otherwise.
Happy Holidays to all!
A Feisty Fox
Michael Phelan, Ph.D. ____ ____
Department of Recreation Management | | | |
and Youth Leadership \ \ / /
Brigham Young University \ \ / /
273 RB \ \/ /
Provo, UT 84602 | |
Office: (801) 378-2118 | |
Fax: (801) 378-7461 |____|
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