The weather is warming up. Time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. If you're going to be hiking in the desert, or other areas where rattlesnakes are present, you should be sure you know what to do if someone in your party gets bitten. Rattlesnake bites can be fatal, so it's important that you act quickly to provide medical care.
If you're in an area with adequate phone service, you should call 9-1-1 and arrange for emergency medical care. If phone reception is a problem, you'll need to prepare to transport the victim yourself. Here are three steps you should take to provide care for someone who's been bitten by a rattlesnake.
Stabilize the Wound Site
As soon as someone in your party has been bitten by a rattlesnake, you'll need to stabilize the wound site. The wound should remain lower than heart-level. Placing the wound above the heart will cause the venom to pump through the body faster. This means that the venom will reach the heart faster, which may increase the chances of the bite being fatal. Hold the wound below the heart until you're able to get the victim to the hospital. It's also important that the victim remain as still as possible. This will also slow the rate that the venom is able to pump through the body.
Rattlesnake venom causes swelling. You're going to need to remove all the clothing from around the wound site. If you have access to a knife, you should cut the clothing away. This will reduce the amount of moving that the victim will need to do to get undressed. If the victim is also wearing jewelry in the vicinity of the bite, you should remove that as well.
Don't Try to Stop the Bleeding
The wound site will probably bleed. That's good. You want the wound to bleed. Bleeding will help remove some of the venom from the body. If you need to, go ahead and place a towel or cloth under the wound to absorb some of the blood. Don't wipe the skin. Since some of the venom may still be on the skin, doctors may be able to swab the area to obtain a sample and determine which type of rattlesnake was responsible for the bite.
If someone in your group is bitten by a rattlesnake while out on a hike, you'll need to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible. Use these tips to help stabilize the victim while you wait for assistance. For more information about emergency patient transport, consider contacting companies like Advanced Egress Solutions.