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‘Snake emergency’: Yosemite hikers require airlifts after rattler bites


Wildfires are lapping at Yosemite National Park’s southern edge, but there’s another threat loose: Rattlesnakes are keeping the park’s search and rescue team busy. The snakes recently bit two hikers, requiring helicopter rescues to reach the victims.

A rattlesnake bit one man in his mid-30’s as he was fishing barefoot in the Tuolumne River on August 27, park officials reported. A fellow hiker alerted officials of the “snake emergency” using a satellite messenger device. Unable to hike out, the victim’s wife shared their location coordinates on her phone, allowing officials to locate them and send a helicopter to rescue the man. He was given two doses of antivenom and treated for dehydration, nausea and pain.


A second rescue happened days later when a rattlesnake bit a hiker, part of a group, while climbing a steep uphill slope. Park officials reported that the bite victim’s fellow hikers waited until the snake left, then approached him.



“We were on the trail, hiking by ankle-high shrubs,” a hiking companion told park officials, “when out of the blue—with no rattle, no hiss, no sound whatsoever—a snake struck.”


One of the hikers had cell service and called 911. A rescue helicopter located the hikers, with support from a ground team that made its way to the group to treat the victim.

The rescue team took the victim to a hospital in Modesto, where he received four doses of anti-venom. He was also treated for dehydration, nausea, and pain, with swelling in his leg and limited range of motion.



Both bite victims stayed for several days at nearby hospitals.


“This summer season, there has been a noticeable uptick in rattlesnake bites in the greater Yosemite region. These two cases provide a good opportunity to review advice for how to handle an encounter with a rattlesnake,” reported Yosemite officials.

The tips are below:

-Keep your distance. Rattlesnakes can strike only a distance equal to half their own length.

-Watch where you step or reach with your hands. Use extra care when opening and closing food lockers.

-Stand still if you think you hear a snake. As soon as you’ve located the snake, move away.

-Beware of snakes without a rattle—baby rattlesnakes don’t have rattles and adult rattles can break off.

And, finally, some do’s and don’ts if you are bitten by a rattlesnake:


DO

– Remain calm and move slowly to keep you

– Seek medical attention

DON’T

– Apply a tourniquet

– Apply ice to the wound

– Attempt to suck the venom out of the wound

Read more here.

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