If bitten by rattlesnake, get to a medical facility as quickly as possible. If you are in the wilderness and far from help, have someone drive you to a medical facility. Time is precious.
Don’t waste time trying to catch the snake — this may result in another bite or another victim. Please do NOT bring the snake to the Emergency Room.
What NOT to do
There are many myths in the treatment of rattler bites. Here is a short list of what not to do if someone is bitten. All these actions may worsen tissue damage or cause complications from a rattlesnake bite.
- DO NOT APPLY TOURNIQUET OR TIGHT BAND.
- DO NOT APPLY COLD PACKS OR ICE TO THE SKIN. IT DOES NOT PREVENT OR SLOW SPREAD OF VENOM.
- DO NOT MAKE INCISIONS OVER FANG WOUNDS OR USE MOUTH SUCTION.
- DO NOT APPLY PRESSURE DRESSINGS.
- DO NOT APPLY ELECTRIC SHOCK.
- DO NOT CONSUME ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE, ASPIRIN OR ANYTHING BY MOUTH.
What really works
Not only can you survive a rattlesnake bite, but you can lessen complications and tissue damage by following these simple rules.
- MOVE VICTIM AWAY FROM SNAKE’S STRIKING DISTANCE TO AVOID FURTHER BITES.
- KEEP VICTIM DOWN, STILL AND CALM.
- REMOVE ALL CONSTRICTIVE CLOTHING OR JEWELRY FROM EXTREMITIES AS SWELLING WILL BE A PROBLEM.
- LOOSELY IMMOBILIZE EXTREMITY.
- KEEP BITTEN AREA BELOW HEART LEVEL, BUT DON’T ALLOW IT TO HANG DOWN.
- TRANSPORT VICTIM IMMEDIATELY TO THE NEAREST MEDICAL FACILITY WITH RATTLESNAKE ANTIVENIN. LINCOLN HOSPITAL DOES KEEP THIS ON HAND.
- MARK ADVANCEMENT OF SWELLING WITH INDELIBLE MARKER EVERY 15 MINUTES.
- IF ABLE, CALL 911 TO ALERT HOSPITAL AND OTHER EMERGENCY PERSONNEL TO YOUR SITUATION. THEY CAN GIVE YOU DIRECTIONS, ADVICE AND PREPARE FOR YOUR ARRIVAL.
Lincoln Hospital is fully equipped to treat Rattlesnake bites. We do keep a supply of antivenin on hand as the Rattler is indigenous to this area.
The Emergency Room is staffed around the clock by board certified physicians and Registered Nurses specially trained in emergency medical treatment and techniques.
The ER is fitted with state of the art equipment for diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries, with lab, x-ray, CT scanner and surgery just steps away. We are also proud of our helipad and relationship with Life Flight helicopter transfer service of Spokane.
Remember — get a rattlesnake victim to the nearest medical facility for stabilization. If the victim needs further treatment, they will be transported by trained EMT’s or by the professionals of Life Flight helicopter service.
For fastest assistance in an emergency or to alert hospital that you are coming, call 911.