First Aid For Snakebite
years, first aid measures for snakebites have been radically revised to exclude methods that were found to worsen a patient's
condition, such as tight (arterial) tourniquets, aggressive wound incisions, and ice. Initial treatment measures should include
avoiding excessive activity, immobilizing the bitten extremity, and quickly transporting the victim to the nearest hospital.
A wide, flat constriction band may be applied proximal to the bite to block only superficial venous
and lymphatic flow (typically, with about 20 mm Hg pressure) and should be left in place until antivenin therapy, if indicated,
is begun. One or two fingers should easily slide beneath this band, since any impairment of arterial blood flow could increase
tissue death. Upper extremities should be splinted as close to a gravity-neutral position as possible, preferably at heart
No study has shown any benefit in survival or outcome from incision and suction. However,
a venom extractor can be beneficial if applied within five minutes of the bite and left in place for 30 minutes. Although
electric shock (often with a stun gun) has been a popular treatment for snakebite in developing countries, it should be avoided
as it is a potentially hazardous intervention that has never been shown to be effective.
attempt should be made to identify the type of snake from a safe distance; however, no attempt should be made to capture or
kill the snake. Even if the snake is dead, it should not be picked up with the hands because envenomation by reflex biting
after death of the snake has been reported.
Equine-derived antivenin to snake venom is
not recommended for the formularies of standard emergency medical services because of the potential for life-threatening allergic
reactions from the antivenin and the length of time required for reconstitution (up to 60 minutes). As safer products, such
as Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab (Ovine; CroFab), become more commonplace, antivenin administration in the field may become
more feasible, especially in remote areas.