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Serious Snake Bite reported by Rick Weber

On Saturday, May 9, 2009 at about 18:30, Wolfe County 911 Dispatch received a report of a person who was bitten by a snake back in the Clifty Wilderness several miles. WCSART Coordinator, Colin Sparks, called out the Team and responded to the call.

About 19:00, the Team located the patient near the Trailhead to Trail 228. The patient was a 19-year-old male from Erlander, Kentucky. John May, a Team member and certified Wilderness First Responder immediately noticed that two tight tourniquets had been tied on the patient’s right arm, and the arm was seriously swollen and gray in color. He determined that the tourniquets, which had been in place for several hours, were preventing adequate perfusion of the patient’s right arm. He also noted two puncture wounds in the patient’s right index finger that the patient reported were made by a small reddish-colored snake. Mr. May slowly removed both tourniquets, whereupon color returned to the patient’s right arm, hand, and fingers. The patient reported being able to feel his fingers with tingling and was also able to move them. May cleaned the puncture wounds, lightly dressed them, and positioned the patient’s arm across his chest.

It is important to note that the patient’s hand was found to be severely ischemic, not from the snake venom, but from the two very tight tourniquets. Immediate loosening of these tourniquets may well have prevented the patient from infarction in his hand and arm and possibly even losing his hand.

Upon finding the patient, the Wolfe County EMS was called. An ambulance arrived about 19:35 and took the patient to the hospital at Hazel Green. The patient was later transferred to Pike County Hospital, and then on to the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington where he was treated for the snake bite. He was released Sunday night and is now recovering at home.

All WCSART members returned safely to ICP and after debriefing were dismissed. Present were: Colin Sparks, Tracy Pinson, Michael Halcomb, Helen Clair, Rocky Clair, Pete Clair, John May, Rick Weber, Eddie Connor, Claylene Connor, Mike Stamper, and Jesse Phillips.