Rural Northwest Health nurse Hayley Smith wasn't even thinking about a potential snake bite when she bent down to pick up a piece of tin that had fallen over in her yard.
The warmth of the sun had made the tin hot to touch and Hayley accidentally dropped it.
As she went to pick it up again, she felt something latch onto her hand. Looking down, Hayley saw a snake still attached to her hand.
On instinct Hayley flung her arm and the snake let go of her hand.
Even though Hayley knew not to panic, she did have a few moments before she realised what to do next.
"I normally always have my phone on me but this time I didn't, so I knew I had to get inside and find it." Hayley said.
On first glance Hayley couldn't locate her phone so she grabbed a bandage and wrapped from her fingers to half way between her elbow and shoulder. Hayley knew she had to keep her arm as still as possible to limit the spread of any potential venom that may have been injected from the snakebite.
By the time Hayley called 000 she was beginning to get a headache and feel sick, 000 had said that an ambulance was 40 minutes away so she said on the floor in the kitchen trying to remain calm.
After 10 more minutes, Hayley knew she couldn't wait for the ambulance and had to do something.
"I started to feel worse, my head hurt, I had stomach pains and I was starting to get a rash." she said.
While trying to make it to her car, Hayley started to vomit.
Luckily her neighbour was outside and saw she needed help. While being driven to the hospital Hayley called ahead to explain her symptoms and ensure they were ready for her.
The urgent care team at Hopetoun jumped into action and prescribed medication to try to alleviate the symptoms.
However, Hayley continued to deteriorate.
Adult retrieval was called to fly in anti-venom to Hopetoun while MICA paramedics and a Clinical Support Officer arrived to assist with Hayley's care. The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) landed on the Hopetoun football oval with the requested anti-venom.
"The HEMS team assessed my condition and explained that the side effects of the anti-venom are often worse than the venom itself. I decided to see if my body was able to fight it off itself before deciding to take the anti-venom." Said Hayley.
As Hayley was loaded onto the helicopter to be transferred to Bendigo she still wasn't improving.
As it is only a short flight to Bendigo the decision was made to administer the anti-venom.
Forty minutes later Hayley was in the Intensive Care Unit at the Bendigo Hospital. where blood tests confirmed the snake had injected it's venom into Hayley.
While in the ICU Hayley's condition was still not improving even after receiving the combined brown/black snake anti-venom on the helicopter, so another dose of brown snake venom was administered.
Hayley spent the next two days in the ICU while they did regular blood tests to monitor her condition before being transferred to a regular hospital ward and then released later that day.
"Apart from being tired I haven't had any further side effects so far which is good. Everybody did everything they possibly could to help me and I will be forever thankful to everyone" Hayley said.
Rural Northwest Health acting Executive Manager Clinical Services Meghan Noonan said it's important to remember not to panic when you come across a snake, most snakes will only attack if they feel threatened, which in Hayley's case we believe is because the tin was dropped.
"Snakes are particularly prevalent at this time of the year and there have been several snake bites reported within the region. The community are urged to be vigilant and in the event of a snake bite - call 000 and apply a firm bandage starting at the snake bite and cover the entire limb and keep the limb immobilised." she said.
There are two types of snake bites, dry and venomous. A dry bite is when the snake strikes but no venom is released. Dry bites are painful and may cause swelling and redness around the area of the snake bite.
Once medically assessed, there is usually no need for further treatment, such as with anti-venoms. Many snake bites in Australia do not result in venom entering your body (known as envenomation) and so they can be managed without anti-venom.
Venomous bites are when the snake bites and releases venom into a wound. Snake venom contains poisons that are designed to stun, numb or kill other animals.
Because you can't always tell if a bite is a dry bite, always assume you have been injected with venom and manage the bite as a medical emergency - call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
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