RACQ CQ Rescue was kept busy overnight on 22 January, airlifting two people with potentially deadly snake bites to hospital. It’s the third time in the same week the rescue helicopter has been required following a snake bite in the region.
For the first call, the Mackay-based rescue helicopter was tasked to Moranbah to assist an 18-year-old wildlife handler who had been bitten on the hand by a yellow-face whip snake. The helicopter, with a doctor and Critical Care Paramedic on board, retrieved the patient from Moranbah hospital and arrived at Mackay Base Hospital with the teen in a stable condition about 8.30pm. Later that night, an 85-year-old man from Proserpine was also transported to Mackay Base Hospital in a serious condition after being bitten on the leg by a brown snake.
The previous week, RACQ CQ Rescue transferred a seven-year-old boy from Glenden after a suspected snake bite to his leg. The patient, who was accompanied on the flight by his mother, was in a stable condition when they arrived at Mackay Base Hospital just after midday on 15 January.
RACQ CQ Rescue air crewman Quinton Rethus said with any snake bite, stopping the lymphatic spread of the venom was of paramount importance. He urged anyone administering first aid to a snake bite victim to never wash the area or try to suck the venom out, do not incise or cut the bite or apply a high tourniquet. “Always bandage the limb firmly, splint it if possible, immobilise the patient and seek medical attention immediately,” he said. Identification of the snake was often possible at hospital by the venom present at the bite site. A brown snake could potentially kill in as little as 30 minutes, so with any suspected snake bite seek medical attention urgently. “Every snake bite should be managed as a medical emergency. Correct first aid could save a snake victim’s life,” Rethus said.