Tourniquet: Bad advice for a snake bite

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by Quigley_Sharps, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A Rockvale man discovered that Western films aren't a good source of emergency medical advice for a snakebite. Mike Edwards, 46, was bitten by a timber rattlesnake Saturday while working on his Rockvale farm. The bite was so severe that Edwards was kept at Vanderbilt University Medical Center until Monday.

    The standard snakebite scene in many movies shows the victim applying a tourniquet to the limb and then cutting the wound and sucking out the venom.

    As Edwards and his wife, Andrea, waited for the ambulance to arrive, a good Samaritan tried to help using advice gleaned from Hollywood.

    "She put a tourniquet on his arm," Andrea Edwards said. "We were on the phone with the EMT who was on his way to us, and he said to take it off."

    As the Edwards learned when they arrived at Vanderbilt, the tourniquet could have cost him his hand or arm.

    "The toxicologist at Vanderbilt said the tourniquet just kept all of the venom in one place, and it swelled, which made it harder for the antivenin to get to it," Mike Edwards said.

    Edwards' condition was critical by the time they arrived at the hospital and his blood pressure was dangerously low, his wife said. Mike said he lost vision at one point and was convulsively twitching.

    "They told me another 10 minutes, and we could have lost him," she said.

    Middle Tennessee Medical Center's Dr. Kevin Beier, who specializes in emergency treatment, said venom is used by snakes to break down the tissue of prey to make them easier to digest.

    "When you trap the venom, it causes tissue damage and necrosis (tissue death)," Beier said.

    Beier said there are rare circumstances when using a tourniquet would have helped, such as in the cases of the victim going into shock and to slow the spread of the venom.

    But Beier said the method of cutting a wound and sucking out the venom is never recommended.

    "Do not do this," he said. "That's been shown not to have been of any benefit and it can increase the effect of infection or damage."

  2. snowbyrd

    snowbyrd Latet anguis in herba

    snake bite

    I was bit once, no turnaquite thing. As in turn a quite 'simple' thing into a disaster. Munsfreeburo if I remember corectly is not that far from Rockvale. anyways, I recon' da' snake did a dry bite on me, just a fair amount of swelling and a REALLY bad night. OH, didn't go to the 'doc' couldn't afford the ambulance and/or life flight. Call me stupid, suicidal or what have 'ya, this is America[flag] and it is (maybe) a 'free' country'.[dunno] (few years ago anyways) Uh been hit by lightning also, what are the chances of that in one lifetime?[deadhorse] snowbyrd
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    o_O :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Better buy a Lottery ticket[fnny]
  5. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Ditto on what Quigs said[winkthumb]
  6. Ricochet

    Ricochet Monkey+++

    I was just thinking about this. I wasn't sure if a Tourniquet was an accepted method or not for snake bites.
    Thats why I didn't mention it in my snake bite video.

    (If anyone wants to see the video, please click here for the thread)
  7. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Is it just me or dose the info in the article sem a bit contradictory? Follow through the line of thought with me here. They say that the tournequet keeps the venom all in that area and trapping it there can cause the loss of the limb, ok thats a bad thing but probably still beter than being dead. Then they say that with an ambulance imediately in route to him takeing him to the hospitol with the tournaquet haveing been removed and haveing not been on long enouph to have had an efect that he was in critical condition by the time he got there.

    So my line of thought on this is that while he was likely a distance from the hospital (out in the country so likely an hour or a bit more for the ambulance to get him and get him to the hospital) he wasnt way out in the bush and help was imediately on the way. So while avoiding the tournaquet and getting to help as quickly as possible may be the best bet if help isnt fr off, it would seem that if you were out in the bush, say on a hike and several miles from a road or transportation possibly in an area with no cell service/comms, and were bitten by a poisonus snake that it would be more advisable to use the tournaquet knowing you would most likely lose the limb from the point it was applied down (and just a bit above) in order to prevent death.

    I come up with that based on their explaination of his condition on arival at the hospital without it and still in a case where the time to get to antivenom would be excessive. What did I miss as to why that would be ill advised?
  8. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    I would say it depends on the type of snake some kill quick and you dont want it to travel very far very fast, a rattle snake will end up rotting muscles if left to it' own path.
  9. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    This is such classic snowbyrd:
  10. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    Most healthy adults won't die from a rattlesnake bite. The problem with putting on a tournequet is that you cut off blood supply to the limb. this in turn kills tissue, and inturn kills said limb, witch means the surgen now has to aputate the limb. In the 7 years that I was a US Navy Corpsman I never put a tournequet on any limb that was still was there, no matter how bad it looked. When you apply it you almost garrentee that a aputation is coming as well.

    I did read a story once about a man that was bit by an Austrailan Brown snake witch is suppose to be the most deadly snake in the world. He was out in the bush and no help for miles, and was on foot. :shock: He simply wrapped an ace bandage around the wound to slow down blood flow to the area but not stop it. Then he walked out of the bush and survived.

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