The Esatern Brown snake is found in areas from as far away as the Kimberley, across the Territory and right along the east coast of Australia. They are responsible for the most number of human deaths by snake bite than any other breed.
The Esatern Brown snake is found in areas from as far away as the Kimberley, across the Territory and right along the east coast of Australia. They are responsible for the most number of human deaths by snake bite than any other breed. Contributed

Coast's deadliest 7: How to save a life

WE MAY not have crocs, but there are still plenty of creatures that can put us in a position where first aid may be the difference between life and death.

A Sunshine Coast summer means there are snakes on the move while our beaches mean we should always be vigilant when it comes to drowning risks.

The team at Maroochydore's National First Aid Training Institute have given us a few tips on how to save lives in some tricky situations.

BITE:

Be it from a blue-ringed octopus, sea snake, land snake, funnel-web spider, coneshell or stonefish, NFTI training manager and ex-paramedic Brett Bernhardt says there is one key technique to help victims.

Calming the patient and restricting their movement.

It helps inhibit the flow of the lymphatic system, which moves the poison around. Movement and diaphragm movement (breathing) stimulates the lymphatic system, Mr Bernhardt said, so if you can calm the patient, it will help stem the spreading of venom.

Once the patient has been calmed, you can apply a pressure immobilisation bandage around the bite site, wrapping it a few times around the limb at the bite.

Once that's done, you can begin applying another pressure immobilisation bandage. Mr Bernhardt says to always start this one at the furthest tip of the limb and wrap it in towards the body, not the other way.

If you can stop further movement of the limb with a splint it is also helpful, but, if not, keeping the patient as still and calm as possible is key until paramedics arrive.

Tips: It's helpful to mark the bite site on the bandage. If the patient is thirsty, wet their lips, rather than giving them a proper drink. For land animals (not mentioned above) like Insects, Redbacks, White tail, ticks and centipedes, a cold ice pack helps and for sea animals, hot water helps with the sting (ie bluebottles. But remember to test the warmth of the water with the non-stung limb to make sure it's bearable before treating)

BURNS:

 

This warm campfire shot was taken by Margie Zea on the Childers Cub Scout camp out at Mafeking on Biggenden Rd last weekend.

Photo Contributed
This warm campfire shot was taken by Margie Zea on the Childers Cub Scout camp out at Mafeking on Biggenden Rd last weekend. Photo Contributed Contributed

It's barbecue season, families are going camping, so there is always potential for burns, particularly with young kids about.

If a burn occurs, the priority is to stop the burning process. Mr Bernhardt says that's achieved by putting the burn under running water for 20 minutes, any less and the burning process continues.

Don't put anything on a burn, but, if you must, a hydrogel is the only approved application.

Dressing burns must be done with non-stick dressings.

Tips: Glad Wrap layered and placed over a burn can be effective at protecting the wound from infection until medical attention is received and also enable medical staff to assess the wound without removing the 'dressing'. Don't wrap dressings around the limb as it becomes constrictive.

SHARK BITE:

 

Stock pic of a tiger shark
Stock pic of a tiger shark Contributed

Sure they may not be common the Coast, but when you're in their environment, there's always a chance.

A tourniquet is a last-resort option for severe bleeding. Often a shark bite can result in severe bleeding, so a tourniquet may be required.

The important thing is to stop the bleeding though.

Mr Bernhardt says applying direct pressure to the wound is a good way to try and stem the flow of blood, while relaxing and calming the patient as much as possible is crucial in trying to slow the heart rate of the victim.

Tips: Mr Bernhardt says there is no need to elevate wounds, rather, focus on calming the patient as much as possible until medical help arrives.

DEHYDRATION:

 

TOUGH WORK: Adam Walker grabs a drink in transition. Photo Chris Lees / Daily Mercury
TOUGH WORK: Adam Walker grabs a drink in transition. Photo Chris Lees / Daily Mercury Chris Lees

Probably not one that springs to mind readily, but can be still be deadly.

Mr Bernhardt says dehydration is more common in young kids but that many adults fail to spot the signs of dehydration in youngsters.

Be wary of any behaviour that doesn't seem right. Excessive sweating is another sign.

Tips: Get them in the shade if dehydrated and get fluids into them. Sport drinks with between 3%-8% carbohydrates are helpful as carbohydrates boost fluid retention.

HEART ATTACK:

 

Heart attack
Heart attack zaganDesign

They can and do strike at any time, but there are a few signs that can help spot one.

Chest pain, an altered sensation in the chest, pain, dullness radiating to other areas like the back, neck or jaw, pale, cool or clammy skin are all tell-tale signs of a heart attack in progress.

If they go into cardiac arrest CPR will be required, but, if not, loosening tight clothing, calming and reassuring the patient and dialling Triple-0 as soon as possible to get medical attention is key.

Tips: Some heart attack sufferers may have heart-related medication on them. Always check and if so, assist with giving them some medicine if it may help. If in remote areas or you are unable to get through to emergency services with Triple-0, dial 112, that should get you to the emergency services through other mobile service providers.

COMPOUND FRACTURES:

 

Reuse & Recycle at the Nikenbah Waste Transfer Station - crutches. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Reuse & Recycle at the Nikenbah Waste Transfer Station - crutches. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle Alistair Brightman

While they may not be life threatening usually, they can be extremely serious situations, particularly with upper-leg fractures.

If you don't know proper splinting, it's best to leave patients unmoved where possible, particularly with femur fractures.

The key is not to aggravate the injury, keep the patient still and make them as comfortable as possible until the ambos arrive.

Tips: You may think you're doing the right thing by shifting a fracture victim but particularly with upper-leg breaks, any movement can cause extreme pain.

LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS:

 

Bull rider Stuart Frame is knocked out by Game On at the Nissan Navara Arena on Friday night.
Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin             ROK110911aframe5
Bull rider Stuart Frame is knocked out by Game On at the Nissan Navara Arena on Friday night. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin ROK110911aframe5 Allan Reinikka

Often it's the handling of an unconscious patient that can determine whether they survive.

Mr Bernhardt says the number one priority for all other injuries, apparent or suspected, including spinal, is to ensure a clear airway for someone who is unconscious.

That means turning them on their side and gently tilting their head back with their mouth towards the ground.

"The only position for unconscious patient breathing is on their side," the former paramedic turned first aid trainer said.

MR BERNHARDT reckons only about 10% of the Coast population is adequately first aid trained and given the recreational, active nature of the region and the fact some areas may see waits of up to 40 minutes for medical assistance, more people should be learning vital first-response skills.


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