Just four days following the purchase of a Survival SMART Snake Bandage, a Wollongong family encountered disaster when their son was bitten by a deadly Red-bellied Black Snake.

Fortunately, quick thinking and having the right equipment on hand helped to save a life, with the boy making a full recovery.

Here, his Dad Gerald*, shares their story to help provide awareness and advice to other families, as we enter dangerous Snake Season across the east coast of Australia.

Q. Can you tell us what led you to purchase the Survival SMART Snake Bandage? Did you have other first aid products available at home?

My son is a passionate amateur herpetologist and has handled snakes, lizards and frogs for a period of time. We were in North Queensland and visited a Zoo north of Cairns, where a snake show was on offer. The presenter had a SMART Bandage and told the public that it was the best available in Australia. Since then, my son kept asking for one, as the bandage he had wasn’t good enough.

Q. Where was your son when he was bitten by this dangerous snake, and how did you find out about it?

My son went for his regular weekend walk up the creek where we live looking for ‘creatures’. The weather was getting warmer and he was hopeful to find a Red-bellied Black Snake and a few frogs.

I knew he was careful and an experienced handler but as you can imagine I am always worried about ‘accidents’. We kept in touch on the phone to make sure he had signal on his mobile.

Then I received a call from him. He was unusually stressed and he told me he had been bitten by a Red-bellied Snake. He told me he had applied the SMART Bandage but he needed to go to hospital. I got in the car and drove to him, three minutes away.

We then raced to the hospital, which is normally around 45 minutes away – we arrived in less than 30 minutes. We phoned the hospital as we were on our way and at arrival he was rushed to emergency. The rest is history!

Q. What was your first reaction when you realised what had happened? Did you have the first aid knowledge required to handle such an intense situation?

My first reaction was to drop everything I was doing, get in the car, keep calm…everything will be ok…

My son and I knew what to do in these situations. I have undertaken ‘Remote Areas First Aid Training’, although it is now out of date. My son spends many hours watching videos about snakes, lizards and just about anything related to animals and thankfully, is aware of what to do when a mistake is made.

Q. Had you discussed snake and spider bites with your son prior to the event?

Many times! We have travelled to many wild places looking for creatures including Kakadu, North Queensland, Western NSW and next week we are heading to south west Queensland. We always talk about the danger and when in very remote areas we have agreed not to handle dangerous snakes.

Q. Did you find the Survival SMART Snake Bandage was easy to use in such a stressful situation?

Yes, we had practised its use at home several times.

Q. Did you receive any feedback from medical professionals on how you and your family handled the situation, and the equipment you used?

The medical staff told us that everything we had done was correct. One of the nurses was most impressed with the SMART Bandage. They told us that it was very rare to treat snake bites and I have to say, they were very ‘excited’ with the situation. The medical staff were amazing, caring and 100% supportive.

Q. As we move into ‘snake season’, we’re encouraging all families and workplaces to make sure their first aid kits are completely up to date, and in particular, suggest a Survival Snake Bite Kit for every family.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with others who might be considering such a purchase?

I think the most important thing is to keep calm and in control of the situation. The SMART Bandage is a must have in the car, home and when bushwalking. It is also important to practise and become familiar with the use of the bandage. It can feel overtight at first.

Snakes are more common than people think and just like we do, they try to avoid us. They are wonderful creatures and essential to our ecosystems.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.