Re: First Aid question - snakebite
Monte Kalisch (montek@MONTEKCS.COM)
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 10:15:24 -0700
Chuck Bramlet (chuckb@AZTEC.ASU.EDU) wrote:
>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.
Michael Phelan (mphelan@BYU.EDU) added:
>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
And Byron Hynes (bph@INTERNORTH.COM) said:
>7. apply a constricting band to slow the spread of poison
There are a couple of additions I would make. First off, Chuck, your
intuition is correct according to current theory. *I* would disagree with
what Michael said that Cox would say (the doing nothing part) and would
support what Byron says about a constricting band, but I think there is
some confusion about what they really are.
First, a little education. There is MUCH confusion in the non-professional
industry about what a constriction band is and what a tourniquet is. They
are *not* the same thing. Both bands are made of cloth, rubber, or other
appropriate material that is at least 1" wide (note: rope is NEVER 1"
wide). 1.5 is probably the optimal width. The difference is how they are
applied and what they're used for. A constriction band is applied to
_reduce_ venous blood flow (the un-oxygenated blood returning to the
heart). Since your veins are closer to the surface (you can see them in
young, athletic types), it doesn't take too much effort to constrict the
blood flow in your veins. You apply a constriction band tight enough to
reduce some blood flow but loosely enough to still allow two fingers to fit
underneath the band.
A tourniquet is applied very similarly to a constriction band, but its
purpose is vastly different. You tighten a tourniquet to completely STOP
*_ALL_* blood flow (both arterial and venous) to and from the limb. A
tourniquet is ONLY used in a mass bleeding situation where a choice must be
made between life and limb. There are rules of tourniquets which I won't
go into now, but they are ESSENTIAL if you would consider knowing them. If
anyone wants to know what they are, please let me know and I'll post about
Back to the snakebite issue, I would always use a constriction band above
the snake bite. If a constriction band is used correctly (as I've stated)
there is no danger in using it and the benefit could buy you some time.
Its purpose, the case of a snake bite, is to reduce the amount of poison
which will be sent to the heart (and then to the rest of the body). At the
very least, it may help reduce the MASS amount which could help too. For
this reason, a constriction band must be applied IMMEDIATELY after the
strike. I would also keep the limb lower than the heart as to use gravity
to your advantage.
Don't suck or pump out the poison. It's not worth the time, energy, or
effort in carrying those devices (and sucking is bad because YOU could
swallow the poison). DO TREAT THE VICTIM FOR SHOCK. Immediately,
continually, and well! Shock treatment always includes keeping the victim
calm. In the case of snake bite, avoid any activity that will speed up the
victim's heart. That means, don't let them walk if you can help it. Just
think about it: if the heart pumps faster, it's going to spread blood
faster (and in the case of snake bite, this blood is carrying poison).
Don't use ice packs, drugs, or other non-recommended remedies.
Last bit of information:
When it comes to first aid, use the common sense rules of first aid. If
there's poison in a part of the body (and poison is bad), how do we keep if
from going everywhere?
I think I may start posting a "First Aid Topic of the Week" just to keep us
on our first aid toes.
Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technicial
Basic Trauma Life Support
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City