Spring prompts warning about 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.
Sixty-five people were treated by St John for snake bites in 2016 and just last month, two people were bitten by snakes, one in the metro area and one in regional WA.
Snakes are most common in bush and grassy areas, in particular near rivers, lakes and in coastal areas.
St John first aid training general manager Aaron Harding said: “WA is renowned for our venomous snakes so it makes sense that all West Aussies know how to correctly treat a snake bite.”
Mr Harding said it is important that everyone in WA knows to call triple zero (000) immediately if you suspect someone has been bitten by a snake, even if you’re unsure of the snake type.
“Time is of the essence when someone has been bitten by a snake and it’s vital the patient receives life-saving medical assistance as soon as possible,” he said.
“While waiting for paramedics to arrive, keep the patient still and calm, lay them flat and 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.
“Snake bite symptoms can include headache, impaired vision, nausea, drowsiness and difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing, so keep a close eye on the patient until the ambulance arrives.”
Spring also brings an increase in spider bites and bee stings. Mr Harding said everyone reacts differently to these insect bites and stings, and for some it can be deadly.
“If someone is bitten, you should apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the affected area straight away to relieve pain,” he said.
“If a sting results in anaphylaxis, call triple zero (000) directly and if an adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector is available, administer immediately. Initial symptoms include hives, widespread swelling, nausea or dizziness.”
“You may not be able to prevent 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. “
With snake sightings expected to surge with the onset of warmer weather, St John Ambulance WA wants to teach 35,000 school students how to treat snake bites before they head on summer holidays.
The St John Ambulance Snake Bites first aid demonstration is aimed at showing school students the basic first aid skills required to correctly treat a snake bite.
St John Event Health Services Operations Manager Jae Smith said the organisation is providing the first aid session free to all schools across the State.
“The demonstration only takes 10 minutes so it won’t disrupt the school day, but what kids learn in those 10 minutes could one day help them to save the life of a friend or family member,” said Mrs Smith.
As the State’s leading first aid provider, St John will take the demonstration to any school anywhere in Western Australia.”
Schools and teachers wanting to find out more about the St John Ambulance Snake Bites first aid demonstration, can call 9334 1259 or email YouthandCommunityEngagement@stjohnambulance.com.au to register their school or request further information.
All participating schools will be provided with a free snake bite treatment pack. To find out more about first aid kits and first aid training, visit www.stjohnambulance.com.au.