News -

Snake Bite Death Prompts Warning from CareFlight Doctor

Queenslanders are being warned to watch out for deadly eastern brown snakes this summer following the death of a man in the state's south west on Sunday.

An 80 year Boonah man was airlifted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital by RACQ CareFlight Rescue in a critical condition after being repeatedly bitten on the wrist and ankle.

He later died in hospital.

RACQ CareFlight Doctor, Dan Weston, says basic snake first-aid will save lives this summer.

“When bitten, serious symptom of envenomation can occur in as little as 20 minutes and death from eastern brown snakes can occur in as little as 30 minutes,” he said.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue airlifts around five patients a year who have been bitten by venomous snakes, with the majority of these missions taking place over the busy Christmas period.

The critical-care Doctor says there are three basic concepts to remember if bitten.

“Firstly, move away from the snake and make sure the area is safe. Secondly, stay as calm as possible and limit body movements to prevent the venom spreading rapidly.

“And lastly, compression of the bitten limb slows the venom going into the blood stream or lymphatic system. Use a bandage or a shirt and wrap it tightly from the bite area to the top of the affected limb and call emergency services immediately,” he said.

The timely warning is echoed by Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison who is removing up to ten snakes a day from Gold Coast homes.

“On a normal day throughout the year I’ll remove one or two snakes a day. In summer I’m removing up to ten a day,” he said.

“Most of these are carpet pythons or green tree snakes, but I get called to remove up to 20 eastern browns a week.”

Mr Harrison has simple advice for people who discover an unwanted guest in their home or yard.

“Don’t think you know what species it is because most of the time, unless you’re trained, you will get it wrong and that could get messy,” he said.

“Just leave it alone and call a snake catcher. Don’t try and remove it yourself or you could end up in the back of the CareFlight helicopter,” he said.

People who suspect they may have been bitten by a snake should look out for signs such as pain, nausea, numbness, tingling around the mouth and dizziness.