Urgent Warning After Snake Bite Spike

A surge in snake bites across WA has prompted an urgent warning from emergency services.

From July 2018 to June 2019, 169 people were treated by paramedics for snake bites. By comparison, 104 people were treated in the 12 months to June 2018, and 120 in 2016.

“In the past 12 months we’ve seen a marked increase in snake bite emergency calls to the point where paramedics likely treated more people last year than any other period on record,” St John WA first aid general manager Aaron Harding said.

Last year the state’s paramedics were busiest during summer, with January recording the largest number of snake bite patients (25). October was the next highest month (21) as temperatures rose and snakes became more active.

Image: AAP

The surge has prompted an urgent message from St John WA on the importance of first aid ahead of peak snake season.

“Five of the world’s 10 most venomous snakes live in Australia and unfortunately there are still many myths surrounding snake bite treatment. Our message is simple, but could be lifesaving – know first aid, even if it’s at a fairly basic level,” Harding said.

READ MORE: Explainer: What Should You Do If You're Bitten By A Snake?

“Obviously the first and most important thing if you’re bitten by a snake is to call triple zero (000), even if you’re unsure of the snake type. People should lie flat, remain as calm and still as possible, and then bandage the bite starting from the fingers or toes and wrapping upwards.”

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The warning comes after the death of a man who was bitten by a snake while bushwalking in Kelmscott in March.

The man phoned triple zero (000) but was unable to provide his location, making it impossible for paramedics and police to find him.

Harding urged people to download the St John First Responder smartphone application which can dial triple zero (000) and provide operators with an exact GPS location.

Common snake bite symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, drowsiness and difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing.