Snake bites prompt medical evacuations from Whitsundays

For the second time in just a week, RACQ CQ Rescue retrieved a snake bite victim from an island in the Whitsundays and transferred them to hospital in Mackay. About 15:00 hrs on 15 April, the Mackay-based rescue helicopter flew 125 km north to Hayman Island after a 29-year-old woman was bitten on the foot by a snake on Hook Island.

The woman, a staff member on Hayman Island, and her partner had travelled the 8 km across to Hook Island by small boat to explore the aboriginal caves. She was walking along a bush track and stepped on the snake, which then bit her right foot. Her partner reported seeing the snake slither off into the bush, but was unable to provide a description of it.

The pair immediately returned to the boat and travelled back to Hayman Island where they raised the alarm. When she arrived at the island and was administered first aid including a pressure mobilisation bandage by the medical team, she was believed to be very panicked and complaining of feeling hot and tingling all over, RACQ CQ Rescue Air Crewman Shane Bargh said.

RACQ CQ Rescue landed at Hayman Island at 15.30 hrs with a doctor and Critical Care Paramedic on board. They patient was loaded in the helicopter which took off just before 16:00 hrs and arrived at Mackay Base Hospital half an hour later with the patient in a stable condition.

It was the second snake bite RACQ CQ Rescue has attended in the Whitsundays in seven days – six days before, a camping adventure on South Molle Island ended badly for a 32-year-old tourist from Portland, Oregon, US, when she was walking to a picnic table to have dinner and was bitten on the foot by a snake. RACQ CQ Rescue flew 104km north and landed on the island’s sandy beach at night to airlift the woman to Mackay Base Hospital.

Bargh said with any snake bite, stopping the lymphatic spread of the venom was of paramount importance. Always bandage the limb firmly, splint it if possible, immobilise the patient immediately and seek medical attention immediately. “Every snake bite should be managed as a medical emergency. Correct first aid could save a snake victim’s life,” Bargh added.


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