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bites and stings

Bites and stings

Australia has a wide range of animals that can bite and sting. Most are non-lethal, simply causing pain and discomfort, however, some bites and stings can further complicate matters. Treatment for bites and stings varies depending upon the type of animal or insect involved but, in general, for all bites and stings the first aider should try to keep the patient completely still, manage their pain and Endeavour to stop any further release of venom.

signs and symptoms
Signs and Symptoms

Will vary to the animal or insect, it includes:

  • Intense pain at the sight
  • Burning feeling where bitten
  • Local swelling
  • Swollen eyelids, lips, neck and face
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sting or creature still left in body, e.g bee sting or tick
  • Bite, scratch or fang marks
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Pain or tightness in chest
  • Unconsciousness

Bites or stings that cause red, hot, itchy symptoms

  • Bee
  • Mosquito
  • Nettle
  • Wasp
  • Ant
  • Tick
  • Jelly fish
  • Centipede
  • Scorpion
  • Redback and other spiders


  • Ask the patient not to move
  • Remove sting, creature or tentacles
  • Apply cold or ice packs to the site
  • Reassure patient
  • Monitor them for shock and/or allergic reactions
  • Call 000 for redback spider bites

Bites or stings from spiky, spiny or fishy creatures

  • Sea urchin
  • Sting ray
  • Stone fish
  • Bullrout
  • Flat head
  • Leatherjacket
  • Crowns-of-thorn starfish


  • Lie or sit the patient down
  • Extract barb if possible
  • Apply a hot pack to the site or immerse the ite area in hot water
  • Reassure the patient
  • Monitor for shock and/or allergic reactions
  • Call 000 especially for stone fish and sting rays

Bites or stings from things that can kill you

  • Snake
  • Blue ring octopus
  • Allergic reactions
  • Box jellyfish-douse liberally with vinegar
  • Funnel web spider
  • Cone shell


  • Lie or sit the patient down
  • Pressure immobilization bandage (PIB)
  • Ensure the casualty does not move
  • Reassure the patient
  • Monitored for shock and/or allergic reactions
  • Call 000
exposure to heat and cold
Exposure to heat and cold

The body is designed to function effectively at a constant temperature of approximately 37*c. The environment or activities a person is doing affects the temperature causing it to rise or fall significantly, the body can no longer function properly. Heat induced illness is called hyperthermia. It is caused by excessive physical exertion, hot climatic condition coupled with high humidity, inadequate fluid intake and infection. The elderly and young children are especially prone to hyperthermia. There are different levels of heat induced illness ranging from heat swelling and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. All body organs are affected by heatstroke, which is potentially lethal condition.


Heat exhaustion

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse

Heat stroke

  • Lack of sweating-flushed, dry skin
  • Temperature above 40*c
  • Rapid, pounding pulse which may weaken
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and possible hallucinations
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Altered mental state
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Heat exhaustion

  • Lie the patient down in the shade
  • Loosen and remove excessive clothing
  • Moisten the skin with cold cloths and/or water
  • Cool by fanning
  • If conscious, give fluids to drink
  • Seek medical attention if they do not recover fairly rapidly


  • Move casualty to a cool environment
  • Moisten the skin
  • Fan repeatedly
  • Apply wrapped ice packs to neck, groin and armpits
  • If conscious, give fluids to drink
  • Call 000 for urgent medical attention


Hypothermia occurs when the body experiences overexposure to cold temperatures causing the core body temperature to drop. The extremities are often the first thing to be affected from ever exposure to cold, as blood vessels in the skin will shut down to prevent core heat from escaping. Hypothermia can be categorized as mild, moderate or severe. The further the body temperature falls, the more life threatening the condition.


Mild hypothermia(35*c-34*c)

  • Maximum shivering
  • Pale, cool skin
  • Poor coordiantion
  • Slurred speech
  • Usually responsive but may be apathetic and slow to react

Moderate hypothermia (33*c-30*c)

  • Most shivering stops
  • Muscles become rigid
  • Consciousness impaired
  • Pulse and respiration slow

Severe hypothermia(<30*c)

  • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Pupils fixed and dilated
  • Heart rhythm likely to change
  • Gently move patient to a warm, dry area protected from wind, rain, snow and cold
  • Lie the person down and remove any wet clothing
  • Wrap the patient in blankets, a space blanket or a sleeping bag
  • Ensure the head is covered to maintain body heat
  • If conscious, give warm fluids
  • If the patient is shivering, rewarming may be tired using bodt to body contact or applying hot water bottles etc. to the patients neck, armpits and groin.
  • Call 000 and stay with the person till help arrives


  • Give alcohol
  • Massage or rub the affected area/s
  • Exposure to excessive direct heat