Ambo parents share life-saving message
Amelia Peacock is living proof of the value of first-aid training.
The Peacock family had just returned home from a Christmas camping trip last Friday when the nine-year-old girl went to see her horse, Jock.
As she often does on the family farm in Gairdner, she took two carrots — one for Jock, and one for her.
As she jumped over a stick, she felt something graze the back of her lower leg.
It turned out the stick was in fact a deadly metre-long dugite.
“I thought the stick just scraped the back of my leg until I saw the snake,” Amelia said.
“It scared me, so I started screaming. It was slithering away from me.”
Standing in their kitchen about 40m away, parents Brad and Cristen heard the screams and knew she had been bitten by a snake.
“We knew straight away,” Mrs Peacock said.
“She’s seen plenty of snakes before and never screamed like that.”
Mr Peacock ran towards his daughter, but that had the unintended effect of driving the snake back in her direction.
Amelia stood stock-still near her horse as the snake went past her at arm’s length.
“The horse was going nuts next to her, so I think he sensed the snake and that something was wrong. He was nudging her,” Mrs Peacock said.
On a farm 160km away from the Albany Health Campus, Amelia was lucky she had two volunteer ambulance officers for parents.
Her father scooped her up and ran her back to the house, keeping her as still as he could before lying her flat on the couch.
As snake venom enters the lymphatic system, it is crucial for the patient to move as little as possible.
Amelia’s mother, a first-aid trainer for St John Ambulance, started wrapping her leg with a snakebite bandage.
She then used her other leg as a splint.
The worst moment of the whole ordeal came when Amelia was lying on the couch as the family waited for the ambulance.
Clammy and sweaty, she started complaining about a “sore tummy”.
“She was completely calm though,” Mrs Peacock said.
“She’d stopped crying.
“She knew she had to be calm and stay still.”
The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes after their triple-0 call.
Mr Peacock took the wheel, while a community paramedic stayed with Amelia.
The paramedic had driven from Bremer Bay to be there for the family.
Once they got to the hospital, blood tests confirmed Amelia had been envenomed — a surprise to her parents, who were assuming it was a “dry bite”.
“She was the third snakebite in Gairdner in the last six weeks and the other two were dry,” Mrs Peacock said.
Amelia was injected with two types of antivenom — brown snake and tiger snake — over the next 30 minutes in case the snake had been incorrectly identified.
Two hours passed between the moment she was bitten and the moment she received the antivenom.
She is now in good spirits, looking forward to having a carrot with Jock.
Her parents said they wanted to share their story to reinforce the importance of knowing first aid.
“Her symptoms would have been almost instant if she’d started moving,” Mrs Peacock said.
“The minute you start running, the lymphatic system will start pumping it around.
“If we weren’t organised like we we were. I don’t think she’d actually be here.”
Mr Peacock said there seemed to be more snakes than usual around homes this season.
“There does seem to be a lot around, just from what I’ve seen,” he said.
“Water’s getting short — they might be on the move a little more.”
SNAKEBITE FIRST AID
- Lay the casualty down, rest and reassure.
- If the bite is on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible.
- Apply a further elasticised or firm bandage — start at fingers or toes and move up the limb as far as can be reached.
- Apply tightly but without stopping blood flow.
- Splint the limb including the joints on either side of the bite.
- Ensure the casualty does not move.
- Seek urgent medical aid. Call Triple-0 for an ambulance.
- Write down the time the casualty was bitten and when the bandage was applied.
- Wash the venom off the skin (it may aid in identification).
- Cut the bitten area and try to suck venom out of the wound.
- Use a tourniquet.
- Try to catch the snake.
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