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Snake Bite Scenario

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:18 pm
So I have a few scenarios that i would like to hear some opinions on. You are in the middle of either Death Valley or the Mojave with a group of people. An adult gets bit by a rattlesnake. You have an amateur radio and or a PLB/SPOT. Do you call in for emergency services or try to get the person to the hospital on your own?

We often hear of people going into the middle of know where and spraining an ankle or breaking something and rescuers often say that that they probably shouldn't have been called in. Is this the case with a rattlesnake bite as well since most rattlesnake victims don't die?

Re: Snake Bite Scenario

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:43 pm
by Chazz Layne
Maybe... I would at the very least say "both" though if they can be moved safely and you know which way to go. At the very least, it would minimize transit time if you can meet emergency services part-way there...

Re: Snake Bite Scenario

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:21 pm
by BorregoWrangler
A venomous snake bite if far more serious than a sprained ankle or broken bone. I would call it in. Although most rattlesnake victims don't die, we don't know how our own bodies will react. Even if a victim receives medical treatment in a relatively short amount of time, sever tissue damage can still occur.

Also keep in mind that the Mojave Green, which is widely regarded as having the most potent venom of all the rattlesnakes, inhabits some of those areas. While other rattlers have hemotoxin, that of the Mojave Green is neurotoxin, which destroys nerves and nerve tissue. A bite from a Mojave Green can produce neurological effects and can stop the breathing process. So, I agree with Chazz.

Re: Snake Bite Scenario

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:11 am
by toms
I do not feel this warrants the Helicopter button for most healthy adults. That is why a ham radio would be better than the PLB/ Spot since you can communicate exactly what you plan.
This is a wilderness context (i.e. more than 2 hours from definitive care). You need to determine the problem list, the anticipated problems and your plan for each.
In 20-30% of bites there is no envenomation. You will have swelling at the bite site and it will be painful. Treat it like any other wound - clean and dress it. Remove any constricting items and perhaps draw a circle around it. You should anticipate the possibility of a systemic reaction, volume shock, and clotting issues.
In all cases, this is an urgent evacuation and you should start heading towards help. This is when it would help to have prepared a list of hospitals and emergency numbers, repeaters, etc. I agree with the others that it is beneficial if you can arrange to have ALS meet you.

In Death Valley there is little possibility of hitting a 2 meter repeater. A sat phone would be better.

Not all emergency rooms stock the anti-venom and will need to arrange delivery. Doing your homework in advance is helpful (which hospitals stock it- assuming you have a selection of hospitals) as is being able to start the communication in the field to reduce the time to acquire the anti-venom.

With all this said very few people die of bite in the US. And most bites are to young males in their hands or legs who were harassing the snake. Alcoholic beverages may be involved as well.