A MAN in Arizona was attempting to cook a rattlesnake on a barbecue grill when the snake decided to fight back.
Victor Pratt, 48, was throwing his child a birthday party when a rattlesnake slithered into his yard. Upon seeing the intruder, Pratt decided to take the opportunity to teach his party guests how to catch and cook a rattlesnake.
In a USA Today report, Pratt said he grabbed the venomous snake to show off to his friends and family when he lost his grip on the snake's head, freeing the snake to attack him.
Pratt sustained a bite to the chest and the face. His family immediately rushed Pratt to the hospital, which doctors say saved his life.
"If an airway is not established in the first few minutes, in our experience less than 15 to 30 minutes, then those patients really don't have a chance to survive,'' said Dr. Steven Curry, Banner hospital's toxicology director.
Rattlesnake venom can cause swelling, paralysis and numbness as well as internal bleeding.
"If they can get their airway established, they're very lucky," Curry continued.
"That is, you're lucky to have been bitten and been able to make it to the hospital in just a few minutes in order to have those emergency procedures done that are needed to save your life."
Pratt was sedated for five days, including during the procedures and his transfer to Phoenix hospital.
"I lost five days of memory," Pratt said. "I didn't know where I was for five days."
Dr. Curry said keeping patients with face bites sedated is crucial to keep them from pulling out the endotracheal tube.
"(If) that endotracheal tube would come out, because of severe neck swelling, it would be difficult or impossible to immediately put it back in or immediately perform ... an emergency tracheotomy," Curry said. "Because if that tube were to come out, then we would expect that they would be in very big trouble immediately, and perhaps might even die in four to five minutes."
On average, Banner Hospital sees about 70 snake bite victims a year, with face bites making up less than 1 per cent of the cases. In fatal snake bite cases, the common denominator, Dr. Curry points out, is not receiving medical attention soon enough.
"First-aid measures such as tourniquets, ice, incisions or taking the time to apply suctions ... are dangerous and harmful," Curry said. "Or completely ineffective, as in the case of suction."
Pratt has learned his lesson though.
"Ain't gonna play with snakes no more," Pratt said.
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