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Care Flight Clinicians meet SSSAFE Snakes

Craig Adams - Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Care Flight rescue helicopter service has been saving lives for over 25 years.  Through the training of trauma specialists and senior registrars, this not for profit organization has played a major role in the evolution of critical care transportation in Australia.  Based at Weastmead Hospital, the Care Flight team also has highly trained critical care nurses working from helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in the Northern Territory.

With many snake bites occurring in remote locations, it will be of no surprise that Australia’s deadly snakes are of special interest to the care flight trauma specialists. Naturally SSSAFE was thrilled to be asked to present to these passionate and like minded professionals, who are at the cutting edge of emergency snakebite management.
As always, the SSSAFE snakes were impressive and participants were thrilled to see live venomous snakes up close.  Craig shared his intimate knowledge of snakes different behavioral and physiological characteristics, discussed the outward signs and appearance of snakebite, and the mechanics of envenomation such as fang length, mouth gape and venom volumes.

The evening proved to be an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing and a variety of topics were discussed including:

  • challenges of managing snake bite emergencies in remote localities
  • latest research and scientific thinking on snakebite first aid
  • pressure bandaging techniques and the importance of immobilisation
  • the best bandages
  • ways to improve public awareness, education and training

A highlight of the night came unexpectedly on the back of event organiser, Justin Treble’s kind offer to have his blood mixed with fresh tiger snake venom!  In the test tube of course, graphically illustrating the catastrophic effects of Australian snake venoms on human blood!  Not for the faint hearted this one.

But the real star of the show, as it so often is, was the highly defensive and agile, eastern brown snake.  In the words of Care Flight Medical Director Dr Alan Garners, “that’s a Bugger of a snake”!  Seemed to sum it up well…

Special thanks to Justin Treble for making the evening a great success, and the whole Care Flight crew who are nothing short of inspirational.

If you would like to learn more about the wonderful work being done by Care Flight or support them by making a donation here is a link to their webpage:


About the Author - Craig Adams

Craig is a venomous snake expert and former Operations Manager for the Australian Reptile Park. With his wife Jackie, Craig has travelled to remote areas of Australia in search of venomous snakes and spiders for inclusion in the Reptile Park's venom collection program for scientific purposes and for the collection of new data on endangered species. Craig has featured in numerous National Geographic and Discovery Channel programs on the world's most venomous creatures. He worked alongside Steve Irwin as a consultant on his film "Oceans' Deadliest" and continues to work periodically with Steve's best friend John Stainton in an advisory and "to camera" role. Together with Jackie, he has also starred in numerous other television, print media and documentary films and is acknowledged by his peers as the "go to" person in this field.

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