Be aware of snakes this summer: Erin and Poppy’s story

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Local mum Erin Carson knows better than most that warm weather means more snake sightings, and is encouraging other parents to be vigilant and aware of our slithering native friends in the lead up to summer.

It was a typical summer day in 2017 for Erin and her family, complete with the usual hustle and bustle of getting her two children ready for kindergarten; however for this young family, the day would prove anything but typical.

“Poppy was really excited for a kinder excursion she was going on to a local farm. She’d been talking about it for weeks,’ said Erin.

The excursion would encompass all you would imagine from a trip to a farm including feeding animals, tractor rides and bush-walking, however Poppy got more than she bargained for when she unwittingly stood on a tiger snake.

“It wasn’t until she felt the bite that she even knew the snake was there,” Erin said.

Kinder staff, who were trained in snake bite first aid acted quickly, and Poppy was taken to Frankston hospital for treatment, however the venom had already begun to take its toll on Poppy’s tiny body.

“At first, doctors were unsure what species of snake Poppy had been bitten by, so they initially administered two anti-venoms” said Erin.

One anti venom was to treat a brown snake bite and the other a tiger snake, however Poppy was not responding to the treatment as quickly as doctors had hoped. 

“Doctors made the decision to transfer Poppy to the Royal Children’s Hospital. She had lost her eyesight, her lymph nodes were the size of golf balls, her kidneys had begun to fail and the venom was already attacking her muscles” Erin remembers.   

“As any parent can imagine, it was absolutely terrifying. Seeing my daughter lying lifeless in a hospital bed is an image I will remember for the rest of my life. She was so sick and I was helpless”

Thankfully, with time, Poppy’s body began to respond to treatment and today she is the happy, smiling little girl her mum Erin knew before that terrible day.

“I know how close I came to losing my daughter that day, but I’m not angry at the snake. It was just doing what snakes do when they feel threatened; it was an accident, but a potentially avoidable one”

Erin stressed that in a situation like this, the most important thing is to identifying the species of snake involved, which helps doctors to initiate treatment faster.

Erin is also thankful to the kinder staff.

Erin says, “Had staff not been trained in snake bite first aid I truly believe Poppy would not be here today. Initial treatment is so important and I would encourage everyone to make the time to undertake first aid training.”

Snakes are not naturally aggressive and the majority of bites occur when people attempt to handle or kill them.

Residents are reminded that snakes are a protected species. If you have a problem with a snake on your property, you should contact a licenced snake handler to remove it.

Snake bite first aid:

  • Provide emergency care including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if needed
  • Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
  • Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and keep the person calm and as still as possible until medical help arrives
  • Avoid washing the bite area because any venom left on the skin can help identify the snake

DO NOT apply a tourniquet, cut the wound or attempt to suck the venom out.

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