02 May 2013

Hunter saves own life after rattlesnake bit him

Chad Cross was hunting for turkey in the woods in Alabama when a venomous pit viper rattlesnake bit him in the lower left leg. Nervous and scared, the Montgomery resident attempted to calm himself and slow his heart rate so as to prevent the quick spreading of the deadly venom throughout his body. He then made a move that saved his life. He pulled out his $10 snake-bite kit. WSFA has the incredible story:
WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

“Best way I can describe it is someone taking a full swing with a baseball bat and hitting me in my calf,” Cross told WSFA.

snake kitsnake bit kit in action

“I knew I had to calm down and get my heart rate down because the faster my heart was pumping, I knew the faster than venom was going through my system.”

Cross opened his Bite & Sting venom extraction kit and read the directions. He’s carried it with him on hunting trips for years but never knew how to use it.

 

the bite

He stuck the tip of the extractor over the bite, pushed the plunger down and pulled it up, creating a suction that brought the venom with it. Then he went to get treatment. His on-camera demonstration shows how the skin is sucked up, and thus, the venom is sucked out.

“That’s what pulled it all out and I think saved my life,” he told WSFA.

The doctor told him as much, saying without using the kit, he would have died before he ever made it to his truck.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the effectiveness of this product. We contacted the manufacturer and they provided the following information:

“As stated on our packaging, venom injected into large muscle masses yield a low retrieval rate due to rapid absorption.  However 90% of all snakebites are to the lower extremities (hands and feet) where a large portion of the venom stays outside the muscle sheath and is absorbed very slowly.  The venom outside the muscle sheath is “digesting” your ligaments and tendons and that is what the venom the pump retrieves.  We still suggest that you get to a hospital as soon as possible.”

Buy this product

We also asked a doctor specializing in wilderness and emergency medicine and he had the following recommendations:

1) As always, first is prevention.  Don’t play or taunt the snake.

2) Some bites by some venomous snakes are purely defensive and minimal to no venom is injected (but still seek medical treatment immediately)

3) Remove constrictive clothing, jewelry, etc.

4) Limit activity (i.e. walking on a leg that has been bitten can increase the circulation of the venom with movement – but if that is the only option, you may have the patient walk if they are unable to be carried).

5) Supportive care – (ABC’s), splinting to limit movement may be helpful as long as frequent reassessment is possible (so splint straps don’t become to tight with swelling) – No Cutting/Sucking/Wrapping

6) Seek advanced medical care as soon as possible for further evaluation and treatment (ideally a facility with antivenom).

7) A picture of the snake could be beneficial, but only if it can be done safely and not further injure the patient or additional people (i.e. getting bit while taking a picture).  Medial professionals can still treat a patient without definitive identification of the snake based on the signs and symptoms of the patient.

8) Mark areas of swelling/redness/bruising with time to help medical professional recognize progression

These recommendations are for most North American poisonous snakes (Crotaline/Pit vipers – Rattlesnake, Copperhead, Cottonmouth).  Some of these rules change if you travel to other areas of the world or encounter non-native snakes in the US (i.e. pets and zoos).

A possible reference could be:

http://www.ems1.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1051983-Treating-snakebites-A-primer-for-EMS/

Photos are screengrabs from WSFA.

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Comments

2
22 May 2013

Chad Cross says;

This is Chad Cross (poor fellow who’s leg is pictured above). To follow up, the Doctors theorized-and I agree, that this bite did not penetrate into the muscle tissue of my leg, which resulted in the extractor kit working as well as it did-which echoes the comment from the Sawyer company. I applied the device within 90 seconds of being bit, and that quick response also helped in the extractor being so successful in my case-but I am very blessed and fortunate. I plan on hunting this snake down when I return to full health, and will update you with pics as soon as I dispatch him. Thanks for sharing my story.
-Chad Cross
Montgomery, AL

Reply
    22 May 2013

    Diane says;

    Hi Chad! So glad you are feeling good enough to surf the net. Thank you for following up on the effectiveness of the Sawyer Extractor Pump. We had a lot of comments on Facebook about how it does not work. Now we know that it does work when the bite does not penetrate the muscle. Feel better soon…and consider some mercy on the snake that bit you…only doing his job 🙂

    Reply

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