First Aid for Snakebite

The following has been adapted from an article on the Pressure Immobilisation Technique by the Queensland Poisons Information Centre.

In all cases: 1. Call 000 for an ambulance immediately. 2. Keep the patient still and calm. 3. Lie the patient down to prevent movement. 4. Do NOT: cut or excise the bitten area; apply an arterial tourniquet; or wash the bitten area1. Bites to the lower limb: 1. Apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible2. • Do not take clothing off – this may promote movement of venom into the blood stream.
Step 1 2. Bandage upwards from the lower portion of the bitten limb. The bandage should be as tight as you would apply to a sprained ankle. Step 2 3. Extend the bandage as high as possible up the limb. Step 3 4. Apply a splint to the leg3. Bind it firmly to as much of the leg as possible. Step 4 Bites to the hand or forearm: 1. Bandage as much of the arm as possible, starting at the fingers. 2. Use a splint to the elbow. 3. Use a sling to immobilise the arm. Bites to the trunk: 1. If possible, apply firm pressure over the bitten area. 2. Do not restrict chest movement. Bites to the head or neck: No first aid for bitten area.
1. The type of snake involved may be identified from venom on the skin. 2. Crepe bandages are ideal, but any flexible material may be used. Clothing, towels etc may be torn into strips. 3. Any rigid object may be used as a splint. e.g. piece of wood or tree branch, rolled up newspapers etc.  
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