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First aid and rescue kits - what to leave behind?
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Danny Korn
(d0nk3yk0n9) - F

Locale: New York
Re: @ Roger on 02/02/2011 06:28:19 MST Print View

I don't know what Roger's reasoning is for his decision, but I personally wouldn't bother carrying anything for snakebite simply because most of the suction tools and snakebite kits don't actually help at all and in some cases do more harm than good.

According to the Annals of Emergency Medicine, a Sawyer Extractor applied as soon as 3 minutes after the bite only removes about .04% of the venom load.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Oops on 02/02/2011 06:54:54 MST Print View


I should have probably clarified. Australian snakes envenomate with a neurotoxin carried by the victim's lymphatic system. Effective first aid involves a pressure bandage over the entire limb, splinting and preventing the victim from moving. It's hard to improvise an effective pressure bandage, regardless of what the boy scouts tell you. (Actually in the 70s, tearing up a sheet/shirt might have worked on preteens long tubular limbs, but now they tend to be more conical)

My understanding is that most north American snakes envenomate with a muscle liquifier toxin. To be honest, I'm not sure what the first aid is for this, but I doubt it's a pressure bandage.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Oops on 02/02/2011 07:49:23 MST Print View

From my understanding growing up in the sticks the only surefire method of treatment for for U.S. snakes (specifically rattlesnakes and copperheads) is to rush to the hospital and get the anti venom. From there it deviates with some people (read: hillbillies) saying to ice it on the way and others saying to apply a tourniquet above the bite. The idea is to slow the spread of the venom but I figure it's mostly just to calm the victim and keep everyone else calm because you did something.

You really need to pay attention and not get bit. I think stepping on a snake and getting bit is a bigger threat to the average hiker than bears... it's really hard to step on a bear laying across the trail.

Edited by veriest1 on 02/02/2011 07:53:23 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Oops on 02/02/2011 12:49:26 MST Print View

"My understanding is that most north American snakes envenomate with a muscle liquifier toxin."

The rattlesnake family uses a hemotoxin. It causes all kinds of collapse in the circulatory system. Preventing its movement by constriction bands is the preferred field treatment. Still, lots of localized tissue can be "predigested" by the venom. Most of the old "cut and suck" treatments have been thrown out over the last 25 years.

The coral snake family uses a neurotoxin. It causes collapse of the entire nervous system, which tends to happen faster. Fortunately, coral snakes do not have any venom fangs in the front of their mouths, so they have to get a soft bite and then chew for a minute.

Southern California happens to have one nasty critter called the Mojave Green. It is mostly a small rattlesnake, and its venom is mostly a hemotoxin. However, it also has some neurotoxin in it. A doctor can't tell if the patient has been bitten by a snake or whether he is drunk. That complicates diagnosis quite a bit.


Eugene Hollingsworth
(GeneH_BPL) - F
Good info - lots of good info... on 02/03/2011 02:04:31 MST Print View

It might take me a while, but sifting thu this post should help me get a solid, but minimal, effective kit together. I always seem to carry too much stuff.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: @ Roger on 02/03/2011 03:19:54 MST Print View

Hi Rod

> Nothing for snakebite? Just curious.
I weigh 64 kg. A snake might weigh 1-2 kg. Does a snake really want to attack me? Going just on body weight, it hasn't a chance of winning, and the snake knows that instinctively. It can feel my ground vibrations as I approach, and will get out of the way.

Yes, we meet snakes in some places. Red-belly blacks mainly, on sunny sandy river banks. (For Americans: potentially fatal.) Sometimes, one every 150 metres. Very territorial I think. But we just go around them and leave them alone.

I'm 65, and I started walking around 14. In that time I have never been menaced by snakes, but at the same time I haven't made the drunk young male mistake of trying to kill snakes either. If you look at the statistics of snake bites and deaths, two things hit you in the face.
* More than half the deaths are known to be drunk young males trying to kill the snake; how many more of the casualties were also attacking the snake is unknown.
* The number of snake bite deaths is very small compared to drownings, murders, etc, and utterly microscopic compared to car deaths (more drunk young males).

Nah, drop bears are more dangerous ...


Karen Kennedy
(karenk) - MLife

Locale: NE NSW - Australian subtropics
Drop bears vs snakes on 02/04/2011 03:09:07 MST Print View

Very interesting perspective Roger. I still don't think I'll leave the bandage at home though! Although admittedly when the bandage has actually been needed it's never been for snakebite (sprained ankle and broken ankle respectively).

What do you take to prevent/treat drop bear attacks???!!


Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Concerned on 02/04/2011 04:35:10 MST Print View


I realised reading your post that I had no treatment plan for drop bear attack. I checked the Australian Venom Research Unit's web page, and they had no information either, but did have a page for platypus envenomation.

I have to say, it's not pretty.

"There is no specific first aid for platypus envenomation, but in all cases the person should receive medical attention. Strong analgesia will likely be needed following a sting, and tetanus prophylaxis should be updated if required.

There is no platypus antivenom available."

I've done a workshop with Ken Winkel, head of AVRU, and he is the master of understatement. I reckon those platypus spurs are going to hurt.

I did check their stats for snakebite Australia wide, and they report several thousand bites each year, 300 uses of antivenom and 3.2 deaths per year (plus maybe a few unrecognised ones)

Like Roger, I have no concern for any snake I see, but the ones I don't see worry me a bit. I'll keep carrying the snake bandage.

(Karen, PM me if you'd like details of the one AVRU recommend and why)

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
In your person vs. in your pack? on 02/10/2011 09:08:02 MST Print View

How many of you carry your emergency/first aid kit on your person vs. in your pack?

I've heard many stories about people having to cut loose packs while crossing streams, bears grabbing packs set down beside a stream, etc.

I've taken to carrying mine in a small waist pack, along with a couple of snacks for the day, which gives me enough supplies to get out if the unthinkable happened.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
on person on 02/10/2011 21:43:59 MST Print View

my FAK is in my pack, but my emergency "kit" is on my person- just for the reason you speak

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
my kit on 02/10/2011 21:59:52 MST Print View

1) Serious painkillers (I never take pharms if I can help it, in the last 10 years only twice, antibiotics once, pk's once)
2) Serious Antibiotics, only on extended trips
3) Needles and thread
4) Tape
5) 1 fresh razor blade
6) High proof liquor (has to be replenished often)

I don't consider insect repellent or sunscreen essentials, but that's just me. I don't burn easily, but I was grateful my buddy talked me into deet for the little biters in peru.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Drop bears vs snakes on 02/10/2011 22:23:15 MST Print View

Hi Karen

> What do you take to prevent/treat drop bear attacks???!!


Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Drop bears vs snakes on 02/11/2011 05:19:31 MST Print View


I can see that swagger all the way over here!

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: on person on 02/11/2011 05:28:05 MST Print View

Mike, I'm glad I'm not the only one!