Jim Watkins was on a bike ride with a friend in the Apache Wash trail in Phoenix when he fell off his bike, into a bush and was bit by a rattlesnake.
Samantha Lomibao, azcentral.com
PHOENIX – Jim Watkins was on a bike ride with a friend on an Arizona trail Wednesday afternoon when he fell off his bike and into a bush.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he was bit by a rattlesnake after he landed.
Watkins, 75, was biking up a steep part of the trail at Apache Wash in northern Phoenix at about 3:45 p.m. when he lost momentum and fell beside the trail, he said, discussing the ordeal Thursday from a hospital where he was being treated.
“It felt like a bee sting. And then as I looked down, I could see the snake was recoiling back up, but still vibrating his rattles. And so I pulled away,” Watkins said.
Watkins, who was bit on his left calf, then rode with his friend for 30 minutes to get back to the trailhead. His friend called poison control right away to seek advice.
“Once I got in the truck, I got poison control on the speaker phone and started talking with them. And they said, ‘This is serious, you need to go to an emergency room,'” Watkins said.
Wakins responded: “Well, right now I feel fine. It just feels like a bee sting.”
Watkins went to Banner University Medical Center and was assessed once he arrived.
He received three treatments of anti-venom – 12 vials in all – that counteracted the snake’s venom and reduced the swelling.
“Most Arizona emergency departments and hospitals have anti-venom. But there’s only a couple of hospitals that have medical toxicologists that specialize in this care,” said Daniel Brooks, medical director of Banner’s Poison and Drug Information Center.
Brooks advises that anyone who gets bit by a rattlesnake should get anti-venom as soon as possible. Walking, running and riding a mountain bike all increase blood circulation and can put your at risk for secondary injuries, Brooks said.
“Wherever the bite is, is where most of the damage is going to occur. And that means breakdown of muscle and skin, as well as a lot of edema and swelling,” Brooks said.
Brooks said the most important factor in a rattlesnake bite is to consider how much venom is injected.
As the weather warms up, rattlesnakes are out on the hiking trails. Brooks gives this advice to anyone planning on hiking:
- Wear closed-toe shoes.
- Be aware of your environment.
- If you see the snake, leave it alone.
“In the warm deserts, rattlesnakes are most active from March through October. In the spring, they are active during daylight hours. As days become increasingly hot around early May, rattlesnakes become more active at night and spend the day in a spot of shade or a cool shelter,” according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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