Snake catcher's 'life-saving' advice after Queenslander dies from snake bite

The technique saves thousands of lives every year according to the snake catcher.

In the wake of a fatal snake bite in Queensland on Saturday, Aussies are being asked if they'd know what to do if they were bitten.

The 69-year-old was attending a community event when he was bitten multiple times by a suspected brown snake in Koumala, roughly 60 kilometres south of Mackay, and died before paramedics could administer antivenom.

Although the chances of being bitten by a snake are relatively low, with roughly 3,000 snake bites reported every year, knowing what to do in an emergency can save lives — with a snake bite kit being vital.

"The venom travels through the lymphatic system, so a pressure immobilisation bandage compresses the system," snake catcher Mathew Hampton told Yahoo News Australia. "It doesn't stop the venom altogether, but it just slows it down to the point where it buys you enough time to get to hospital."

Left, Mathew, who spoke about snake bites, can be seen holding a python. Right, a snake is on his head.
Snake catcher and conservationist Mathew Hampton explained what Aussies should do if a snake bites them. Source: Mathew Hampton

How does a snake bite kit help?

Standard snake bite kits are made up of two pressure immobilisation bandages, a splint, gloves, instructions and a pen — with the priority being to slow the spread of the venom through the body.

"At this stage you would lie down, stay as calm as possible, and apply pressure to the bite area," Mathew said.

The instructions include a step-by-step guide on how to apply the pressure immobilisation bandage and the splint is used to "immobilise the leg or arm to prevent movement" if a limb is bitten, with a pen included to record events.

The compact snake bite kit can be seen inside a small bag.
Using pressure immobilisation saves thousands of lives every year from snake bites, Mathew told Yahoo. Source: Mathew Hampton

"It's good practice to write the time of bite, time bandages were applied and circle roughly where the bite was ... The patient may only end up going with 1 or 2 people to hospital. Potentially alone. The more information passed on to paramedics the best chance it gives."

"The pressure immobilisation technique saves 1000s of lives a year."

The best survival tip is prevention

Mathew explains there are simple steps which can be taken before an emergency strikes, to help drastically reduce the likelihood of being bitten.

"Do your homework on what snakes are around you," he said. "If you only think about where you live and where you go, you can probably narrow that down to maybe two or three venomous snakes."

By taking away places where snakes may hide in your backyard and removing potential attractants like rodents or bird cages outside and in the home, it will reduce the chance of encountering a snake.

You can mitigate a potential snake bite by 95 per cent just by taking away all the things that attract themMathew Hampton, Snake Catcher & Conservationist

Mathew created a snake identification page online to help Aussies become 'snake smart' and he encourages everyone to take notice of informative community groups like his, even if they only passively engage.

There are over 100 venomous snake species in the country, with only 12 likely to inflict a wound that could kill humans.

"Members that join with phobias end up becoming fond of snakes, it's like exposure therapy ... it's life-saving."

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