Woman in hospital after bite by eastern brown snake

A trained WIRES volunteer has been bitten by an eastern brown snake while at a reptiles handling refresher course.

Deborah Mary Martin attended the WIRES reptile course at Springwood Scout Hall in the Blue Mountains on Saturday afternoon and was bitten on the finger while handling the reptile.

“We were doing our refresher course and everything was going fine but I must have done something wrong because the eastern brown snake I was trying to catch turned around and bit me on the finger,” she said.

“I didn’t really have time to think about what had happened – the guys that ran the course were excellent and treated me correctly.”
Ms Martin said she was really lucky she received the correct treatment after being bitten by an eastern brown snake.
Ms Martin said she was really lucky she received the correct treatment after being bitten by an eastern brown snake. Photo: Brook Mitchell
Ms Martin, who has rescued and worked with snakes for nearly six years said as part of being a volunteer they have to attend a refresher course every two years to make sure they had the correct technique.

“I really like to get the message across – people should really try to avoid handling snakes because even trained WIRES volunteers can get bitten.”

Emergency services treated Ms Martin at the scene before taking her to Nepean Hospital where she tested positive for venom and has been administered anti venom.

Ms Martin took to social media to inform her family and friends on her condition.

“I am in Nepean Hospital after being bitten by an Eastern Brown snake at a WIRES reptile course,” the post said. “Doctors in emergency are doing regular blood tests to decide whether I need anti venom.”

The 63-year-old remains in hospital in a stable condition and is under observation.

“I’m feeling okay, I got all the right first aid and treatment – I’m really lucky,” she said. “If I didn’t get the correct first aid treatment that quickly, I think I might have died.”

The incident is a timely reminder that Australia is currently in snake season and people should prepare and know what to do when someone is bitten.

“Venomous snake season is now – it’s from the start of spring through summer to autumn,” John Mostyn from Johns Reptile Awareness Displays said. “Snakes have now just come out of brumation [hybernation-like state] and are looking for food and to mate as it is mating season for venomous snakes from October to January.”

Mr Mostyn, an experienced venomous snake catcher said the eastern brown snake is frequently encountered in many residential and commercial properties.

“They are the second most venomous snake in the world and are responsible for the most snake bite deaths in Australia since 1980,” he said. “They are a very nervous and flighty snake, and if encountered individuals should slowly back away from the snake, allowing the snake to have an escape route.”

Mr Mostyn advised anyone who encounters a snake to neither catch nor kill it, but to keep an eye on the snake and call a licensed snake catcher.

“People should be aware of snake behaviour and how to retract if they are confronted by a snake,” he said, “Know the correct first aid for a snake bite which is to apply pressure or an elasticise compression bandage along the affected limb, immobilise themselves and call 000.”

Mr Mostyn advised parents to sit down and talk to their children about what to do when they see a snake.

“Tell the children if they see a snake to stand still and don’t move – call out to an adult and allow the snake an escape route – do not try to catch and kill the snake,” he said.

“Snakes in the environment is a sign of a good eco system, we need to understand snakes and their behaviour as we can coexist with snakes in our environment so long as we are educated about their behaviour.”

Look out there are snakes about. It is important to understand that the snakes are just as scared of you as you are of them so please try to give them space and they will remove themselves. It would also be a great idea to get some training in a first aid course in case you do get bitten. In a first aid course with us in Canberra we will show you the correct technique to bandage a snake bite. Canberra First Aid courses are only $100 and you will gain many skills to help save a life. So book in now for some first aid training.

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