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EMSA: Stay calm, if bit by snake

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Bit by a snake? Paramedics said the best thing you can do is stay calm and call 911.

It's what a man did on a soon-to-be-developed housing lot  near 159th and Rockwell.

First responders found him on the ground, nursing a snake bite.

"The first thing we want the patient or the victim to do is stay calm, try to relax, easier said than done, of course," said EMSA paramedic John Graham. "You don't want that heart rate up, that blood flowing and, of course, call 911. That way EMSA can come out and follow our protocol and get them to the proper facilities, so we can get treatment going."

Snake bites are not terribly uncommon, Graham said, and paramedics do have a plan to respond to them.

He said flooding, such as after the heavy rains this spring and summer, can sometimes drive snakes to more prominent places.

In the United States, last year, there were approximately 8,000 snake bites.

Fewer than ten of those bites were fatal, Graham said.

Often, the danger is not immediate.

"From the time of bite to the time of death or unresponsiveness does take some time so, if you can calm down and relax, it slows that process," he said.

The protocol varies, Graham said, depending on the snake but, generally speaking, the first thing first responders look for is an allergic to the snake's venom.

Then, the victim is often transported to the hospital for further treatment.

That's what happened to the man who found himself injured Friday afternoon.

He is expected to be okay.

As for advice, EMSA recommends wearing thicker clothing to avoid being bit.

High boots and jeans can be especially helpful.

Under no circumstances should you try to suck the venom out of your bite, Graham said.

Instead, it's much safer to calm down, relax and wait for help to arrive.