Rattlesnake bite treatment on the river - Mountain Buzz

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
Norcalcoastie's Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 41
Rattlesnake bite treatment on the river

Greetings Buzzards and glad to see folks back on the rivers,

Last weekend, we were on the NF John Day on the first night of camp and our 12 year old daughter stepped on a log and rattlesnake came out. No big deal, I poked it with a stick out of camp (I carry a Sig, but thatís a last resort) and my daughter was a little wiser running around.

But I got to thinking, what if she got bit? I carry a comprehensive first aid kit, radio, and a 406.1 EPIRB. None of that would treat her, Iím 30+ miles from the takeout, there is a road going back, but I sure wouldnít want to hike her out. I guess I could activate the EPIRB, but a helicopter flight is really for life and death only (full disclosure, Iím a Coast Guard helicopter Aircrewman).

What are yíalls thoughts on this scenario? A remote snake bite? Abandon camp and run it out? Was wondering yíalls thoughts on serious injuries in remote stretches. Thanks!

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
Fort Collins
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 249
That is a really good question, but I would definitely start with this:

I picked it up for a Labyrinth Trip, and the nasty bugs down there, but we use it all the time on mosquitoes. It is actually amazing on mosquito bites, sucking the venom out, and quickly and seriously reducing the itch and irritation. That was worth the $17 alone, and for frequent use.

Hope I never have to use it for something nastier, but based on the experience I have had, I would expect it to do a lot for a snake bite before you rush off for help.
"If I'm not there, it means I'm dead...or late!" General W.R. Monger
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
tango's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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My gut says go with the helicopter evacuation when weighed against the other options. A snake bite could be pretty serious. I'm not familiar with your EPIRB device, but the first responders could possibly decide whether the situation warranted immediate evacuation.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Antivenom is the only treatment. Those pumps do not work. Medscape is a tertiary review site for medical professionals. First sentence. "Do nothing to injure the patient or impede travel to the ED."
80% + of rattlesnake bites are to the upper extremity.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Victim's relatively small body mass. Unknown quantity of venom injected. Unknown potency of venom (function of time since snake's last strike). Unknown victim vulnerability to that specific toxin.

I know what I would do if it was my child.


Rich Phillips
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
Denver, Colorado
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Get the helicopter ASAP!

In the meantime calm her down (you too), immobilize her, and wrap the bite site with gauze. Get to and prepare the area for the helicopter to land - you may have to boat down the river farther. When the the helicopter lands follow their directions. On the Grand you're required to have big, long, orange, panels of some type of fabric or plastic to show the chopper where to land. Might be worth having them in your first aid kit or rescue bag. I think I'll start looking for and making some.
When the river calls, the wise one listen.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
Grass Valley, California
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2014
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As a paramedic- I concur the snake bite kits do not work. Also agree not all bites are equal. When a Rattlesnake bites- it is a defensive move-they are doing it because they think you are a predator. As a terrestrial animal, their rattle is a sign to hoofed animals not to step on them.
Their is a percentage of bites that where no venom is injected.

Most protocols for EMS call for keeping the patient calm, keeping the bite location lower than the heart. Immediate evacuation to a hospital is called for, and antivenom therapy.
I would use the Epirb...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #9
Asheville, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 7
Looks like good advice here - best minimize movement and get to the ER.

But hey, the boys and girls in Astoria would love to come pick you up - though I'm sure they will make sure you hear about it afterwards.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
Norcalcoastie's Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 41
Getting hoisted by your own? Been there, was glad for it These are some good thoughts out here. Iíd heard that snake bite kits, tourniquets and the such donít work. Iím happy to have my EPIRB (ACR PLB), but I know that helicopter rescues arenít easy or guaranteed. I wouldnít want to endanger a crew if there was another option.

Glad to hear the discussion yíall!
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