As part of our mandatory first aid training we had area specific training. One of these were on identifying snakes, snake bites and treatment of snake related injuries. One of the procedures when bitten was to try and identify the type of snake that had done the biting as different venoms had different effects and of course treatments. The person doing the lecturing was the medical station superintendent and he said, “Try and catch the snake if possible as it will make identification easy”. This led to an incident that we all still talk about fondly. The story goes like this… A party was going on and drinks had been drunk. The host was a bit unsteady on his feet and whilst talking, mention was made of his new motorcycle. This had to be shown off, and the garage was duly opened. Whilst opening the garage he felt a sharp pain in his hand and lifting the garage discovered a snake attached to his hand. The surprise made him shake the snake off his hand. He then realised that this was not a good situation to be in and his first aid training flashed before his eyes. The snake started to slither away just as he remembered the part about “capture”. He then spent the next few minutes attempting to catch the snake, but the state he was in did not assist with this very well. Eventually after being bitten 4 more times he managed to catch the snake by it’s neck. Not having a stable container, nor the presence of mind to find one, he got a guest to drive him to the medical station superintendent. The hospital being miles away he realised his knowledge on snake bites left much to be desired so getting help quickly seemed to be a good idea. As the medical station superintendent answered the door the snake was thrust into his face with the slurred words, “This snake just bit me”. After some panic, screaming and explanation it was thankfully found not to be poisonous and part from a very bad headache the next day everyone survived. Needless to say the procedure was modified a bit after that incident.
Living on a small mining community in the bush veldt far away from civilisation I discovered life was a bit different from the city. There were interesting and deadly animals. Lions, crocodiles and snakes were just a few I encountered. I discovered this quite quickly when I returned home from work one day and my wife and daughter were on the kitchen table, my wife with a very large knife. Apparently a snake had been slithering around by the back door. We learnt to check for floating logs in the aptly named crocodile river before jumping in. Some of the logs had eyes and teeth!