Prepare for spring bites and stings
Call triple zero (000) immediately – that’s the warning from St John Ambulance Western Australia if you suspect you’ve been bitten by a snake or venomous spider.
With the imminent arrival of spring and warmer weather, the risk of potentially deadly bites increases as snakes become more active and people head into the garden or great outdoors.
Each year, St John sees a seasonal increase in emergency snake bite cases, with last spring and summer proving one of the busiest on record with paramedics responding to 17 cases from September to February.
St John First Aid Training Team Leader Rondel Dancer said even if you’re unsure about the source of the bite, it’s vital you call triple zero (000) immediately.
“Our highly trained operators can assess your symptoms and determine if you need paramedics to attend. Time is of the essence when someone is bitten by a snake or redback spider, and it’s vital the patient receives assistance as soon as possible.
“It’s important when a patient is bitten by a snake, that they are kept still and calm while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Lay them flat and begin to wrap a bandage over the site of the bite, then apply a pressure bandage – starting from the fingers or toes and wrap upwards as far as you can go.”
“You must continually monitor their condition for deterioration. Snake bite symptoms can include headache, impaired vision, nausea, drowsiness and difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing.”
Spring also brings an increase in spider bites and bee stings. Ms Dancer said everyone reacts differently to these insect bites and stings, and for some it can be deadly.
“Straight away you should apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the affected area to relieve pain.
“If a bee sting results in anaphylaxis, call triple zero (000) directly and if an adrenaline auto-injector, such as an EpiPen, is available, administer immediately. Initial symptoms include hives, widespread swelling, nausea or dizziness.”
“Redback bites can result in localised pain that intensifies and spreads, profuse sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle weakness or spasm. While white-tailed spider bites can cause localised irritation, itchiness, ulceration at the bitten area and skin discoloration.
Ms Dancer said people may not realise immediately that they have been bitten by a spider – or the type of bite they have received. She urged people to see their GP or in serious cases, call triple zero (000).
“You may not be able to pre-empt against a snake or spider bite or bee sting, especially in spring. However, you can be prepared for any eventuality by wearing protective clothing, having a fully-stocked first aid kit and ensuring your first aid training is up-to-date.
To find out more about first aid kits and first aid training, visit www.stjohnambulance.com.au.