Snake bite ends Christmas Day

KEN Exley of Evans Head got an unwelcome surprise as he prepared for bed, after a long day entertaining family and friends on Christmas Day.

The Environmental Development Services director with the Richmond Valley Council was bitten twice by a snake, as he turned out lights in his carport.

He spent the night in the emergency department of the Lismore Base Hospital.

Mr Exley wasn't sure if the snake was a red-bellied black or a brown snake, but he did know the slippery critter had a bad day.

"I went outside and walked into the carport just to turn out the lights," he said.

"I was walking back between the cars when I felt something grab me by the foot.

"I came inside and examined the site and saw the puncture marks, so from there I knew it was a snake. It was clearly a little bit aggressive 'cause it got me twice."

Mr Exley said the bite felt like a paper wasp sting, which had a burning sensation and which went on for five or six hours.

He also said his leg was swollen and he felt pain in his leg and groin. He also felt nauseous, had stiffness in his neck and had a headache.

"It wasn't really a (Christmas) dampener but an eye opening experience being in emergency and seeing the type and number of presentations that occur," Mr Exley said.

"But the nursing staff... what they do with what they are presented with... they do a fantastic job."

The one dampener of the experience for Mr Exley was that, after a sleepless night in the emergency department, he slept most of Boxing Day, which was his wife's birthday.

"I am sure she will forgive me," he said.

According to information published by the University of Sydney, there are about 3000 snake bites a year in Australia, of which 200 to 500 receive antivenom. On average one or two bites a year prove fatal.


Follow DRSABCD (Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, CPR, and Defibrillation).

Rest and reassure the patient.

Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.

Splint the bandaged limb.

Ensure the patient does not move.

Write down the time of the bite and when the bandage was applied.

DO NOT wash venom off the skin.

DO NOT cut the bitten area.

DO NOT try to suck venom out of the wound.

DO NOT use a tourniquet.

DO NOT try to catch the snake.


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