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Fauna Spotter Catcher Update

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Another successful SSSAFE Fauna Spotter Catcher training course was conducted in May.  This nationally accredited training program is unique.  Of course, we focus on animal handling and husbandry techniques but the real thrust of the training is Risk Management! Fauna Spotter Catchers play a critical role in the mining and construction environment, where clear-headed sound judgment is essential.  The stakes can be very high and safety is paramount!  Catching wild animals can be dangerous and once fear and adrenalin kick-in things can easily spiral out of control.  The FSC must learn to remain calm and in control of any wildlife emergencies but also consciously aware of the inherent dangers of the work site.  A high level of situational awareness is essential and this is why good FSC's are also good Risk Managers.  Exposure to a range of animals in the Zoo environment provides an absolutely unique training context to prepare the trainee for this challenging and rewarding occupation.

Keep your head tucked in tight. The emus feet are weapons! 

Goannas pose a serious threat to the inexperienced FSC.

Trainee demonstrating the correct technique.

The correct way to grasp a sugar glider.

Participant safety is taken very seriously.

Kitted out and good to go!

Hunter Valley Woman Dies of Brown Snake Bite

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Thursday, November 07, 2013

The article below appeared in The Australian November 06.  It attempts to highlight some of the factors that may hinder the early detection of brown snake bites.  Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims family and friends.


A WOMAN who died yesterday after being bitten by a snake while gardening at the weekend might not have even known she had the deadly venom in her bloodstream, an expert has warned.

The 59-year-old woman was discovered by her husband in the backyard of the couple's Glen Oak property, northeast of Maitland, on Saturday afternoon. She was rushed to John Hunter Hospital in a critical condition and remained on life support for three days before passing away at 12.30am yesterday.

Tests have been conducted to determine the species of the snake but given the circumstances, the semi-rural location and the fatal result, experts believe it was almost certainly a brown snake. 

Reptile expert and director of Snake and Spider Safety Awareness for Employees Craig Adams said the Hunter Valley was a national "hot spot" for brown snakes.

He said their small fangs and blood-thinning venom meant it was "not uncommon" for victims to dismiss a bite as a stinging nettle or sharp twig only to collapse minutes later.

"The bites are very superficial in appearance, with very little pain around the site," he said.

"It's very easily overlooked, sometimes they don't see the snake and if you've got your hands buried in gardening you might not realise it was a snake at all.''

But what they lack in fangs, Mr Adams said, brown snakes - arguably the second deadliest in the world - make up for with powerful venom. "Symptoms come on very quickly,'' he said.

"Early collapse is a hallmark of brown snake bites … if people are unaware they've been bit it's common for people to have early collapse.''

Fauna Spotter Catcher Course Update

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Update our Fauna Spotter Catcher Training courses for work in the mining and construction industries is now Accredited!  

Created by SSSAFE and Kleinfelder, in a VET partnership with RTO Risk Response and Rescue (RR&R) our intensive FSC training program is the ONLY one of its kind - offering a suite of Nationally Recognised, certifiable skills and competencies to prepare the FSC for work. 

Ecologists and anyone wanting to progress in the S/C industry will need to show they have sufficient animal handling skills and mine site safety and awareness.

Spotter Catching is unlike normal ecological survey work.  It can be very demanding and potentially very dangerous.  As the image depicts the S/C can really have their hands full.  It is not just the animals either, which usually includes lots of venomous snakes, the S/C must also coordinate heavy machinery, mine site workers and contractors, and develop the ability to form on the spot risk assessments.  There is simply too much at stake to get it wrong.


The course runs for 2.5 days and is very, intensive and HANDS-ON.

If you are looking to:

  • Improve manual handling skills and husbandry knowledge for a range of native fauna, typically encountered by S/C’s, including snakes and large goannas;
  • Develop analytical, technical, identification and observational skills for better decision making, better judgement and a safer work place; 
  • And prepare yourself to meet stringent safety demands and performance criteria for S/C Work in the mining and construction industries - this course is a must!
View our training video:

Maximum of 12 per session.  Participants must be 18 years or over.

Rise in Snake and Spider Bites Across NSW

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Ambulance and Paramedics are calling for greater awareness of the presence of snakes and, importantly, of knowing what to do, how to react and stay calm in a snakebite emergency...and above all, how to administer life saving first aid.  Learn to be calm, effective and in control by attending SSSAFE training, as nothing beats live snake demonstrations and practical advice delivered by an expert.

Tiger Snake (pictured) was once Australia's leading cause of snake bite mortality, now overtaken by the Eastern Brown Snake (image courtesy of Ian Norton).


Spike in snake and spider bites across NSW

Coffs Harbour Express Advocate

19th Mar 2013 1:30 PM

There has been an increase in snake bites in NSW and brown snakes feature highly in the statistics.  AUSTRALIA'S reputation for deadly snakes and spiders has again been proven.

In NSW over the past six months, NSW Ambulance paramedics have responded to 424 incidents where people have been bitten, some which have proven fatal.  On the Coffs Coast, a 60-year-old man died last week after he was bitten by a rare yet highly venomous Stephen's banded snake at Kalang. The man was isolated by floodwaters when he was bitten a fortnight ago. Police said this hindered the rescue operation and the man's immediate access to anti-venom.   A local reptile handler, meanwhile, was also involved in a car accident at Bonville earlier this year after he was bitten by a Rough Scaled snake. 

Over spring and summer there have also been multiple spider bite incidents involving Northern Rivers funnel webs and red backs. To highlight the danger posed by snakes and spiders, NSW paramedics will on Wednesday launch a public awareness campaign. The NSW Ambulance Service is compiling a breakdown region-by-region to highlight which species are more prevalent when it comes to bites in particular areas of the state...

 Extract taken from today's Coffs Harbour Express Advocate, a similar article can also appeared in the Daily Telegraph.


Man Killed by Stephen's Banded Snake

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Friday, March 15, 2013

Regrettably there have been a number of serious bites from these lesser known snakes in recent times.  The Stephen's Banded Snake is a mostly nocturnal tree dwelling species.  They are seldom encountered tending to remain hidden away in tree hollows, cracks and beneath bark, unless, however, they are displaced by land clearing and flooding events. 
This is a very pugnacious species, and along with others from the same genus including the Pale headed snake and the Broad headed snake, will not hesitate to bite if disturbed.  People should use extreme caution on encountering any snake as this group of snakes is easily mistaken to be a “harmless” species.  Note the following article incorrectly refers to it as the Stephen's Banded python(?) snake.  

Flood rescue victim dies after snake bite

Coffs Harbour Express Advocate
13th Mar 2013 

The Stephen's Banded python snake.

A KALANG man bitten by a highly venomous snake while isolated recently by floodwaters has died.
Bradley Hicks, 60, was transferred to John Hunter Hospital after being bitten by a Stephen's Banded python snake on March 3.
At the time the popular community member was left stranded by fast flowing flood waters while difficult terrain and torrential rain hampered efforts by SES and ambulance officers as well as a police rescue team to transport him to hospital to receive much needed assistance.
Attempts were made to task an air ambulance or helicopter to the scene but poor weather conditions prevented a rescue mission by air.
A funeral service is being held at Glennifer Community Church on Monday.

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