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Treat Snake Bites in the Wilderness

Wilderness treatment of snakebites involves immobilization of the extremity, treatment of the wound and evacuation.


1. Move away from the snake and ensure safety of the scene to prevent additional bites.
2. Calm the patient down and keep him or her still and quiet
3. Elevate the bite at or below the level of the heart.
4. Remove any jewelry or other articles, which may constrict with swelling.
5. Suction immediately with a Sawyer Extractor, ideally within three minutes after the patient has been bit.
6. Clean the wound thoroughly with an antiseptic soap or solution
7. Dress the wound with a snug dressing using an elastic bandage.
8. Splint the extremity.
9. Keep the patient well-hydrated.
10. Evacuate immediately, preferably without any effort on the part of the patient. An ideal evacuation would involve sending others to arrange for a helicopter evacuation.

Overall Warnings:

  • Do not do any of the following: ice the wound, apply a tourniquet, make an incision before suction, apply electric shock.
  • Do not administer any drugs or alcohol.
  • Evacuate immediately, even if you suspect a venomous snake did not inject venom when it bit.
  • This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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