Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Please note: The snake bite treatment described in this story is accurate for the treatment of snake bite IN AUSTRALIA. People from other countries should consult their local authority.

I was working the mining and exploration camps at the time, security, bullion transfer and assay collection. So the Company insisted I carry a side arm. I was an ex serviceman so didn't have any real trouble with that. Either carrying it or getting a licence from the Cops. I'd never had to pull the bloody thing out though, except to clean it and for the mandatory Company shoots. Except once, for the poor bloody 'Roo I'd clipped on the Development Road. After that I bought a rifle, a two four three, and carried that, you have to get close with a hand gun, messy, I didn't like that. So, I was out  the back of Mount Isa, returning from a bullion run, which was lucky, with the bullion on board I wouldn't stop for God himself. She was standing in the middle of the road, well track really, we don't have real roads out here. Miles from  bloody anywhere. There was a four wheel drive, one of those toy things for the City types, parked back off the road, and nothing else, not even a Goanna, for miles.

She stood fair in the middle of the track waving her arms above her head like windmills. I figured she had a problem but pulled up a bit short of where she stood. You can't be to careful and it's strange to see a young woman out here on her own. They do it, silly bloody women. But sometimes they've got a man or two back in the bush. If a bloke gets hit over the head it could be weeks, if ever, before they found what was left of you out here. This country doesn't forgive. A few people knew I carried bullion from time to time and some of these mad buggers would try anything.

It was late in the afternoon, nearly six, and it had been hot, forty five  degrees Celsius in the shade wasn't unheard of. She looked hot, and I don't mean sexy, just hot. She was covered in sweat, and looking a bit bedraggled, she'd been out in the sun for a bit. She ran towards me shouting about something and pointing over her shoulder towards the four wheel drive. I wound down the window and made sure the rifle was handy, like I said, you can't be too careful out here. The heat rushed in the open window, she damn near did too. She was frantic. Whatever had happened she was in the shit.

"Can you help me? It's my Brother, I think he's been bitten." She gasped out. American accent. Bloody tourists.

"By what? I said. I wasn't getting out yet.

"A snake. Please, hurry."

"How long ago?" I asked.

"Um, I'm not sure, about half an hour."

"Hmm." I said. "So he's not dead yet?" Wrong thing to say I  s'pose. The wail was enough to wake the dead.

"Please hurry." She managed to get out through a huge sob. Shit, my Sister wouldn't  cry if I got bit.

"What bit him?" I asked. Silly bloody question.

"A snake."

"Yeah, I know. you said that. But what sort?" She probably wouldn't have a clue.

"I don't know, it..., it was a big one. It was brown, sort of." She was nearly off her head, I figured it was no trick, or she was a bloody good actress.

"Better have a look." I said, I handed her the first aid kit. "Here, take this."

I brought the rifle, just in case. She bolted up the road and ran up through the bush a bit. I saw her squat down in the knee high scrub, away from the four wheel drive, I couldn't see clearly but there seemed to be some one on the ground. I walked up and looked about me as I went. I had a good look around, didn't seem to be anyone else about but I was still on my guard. Buggers could jump up out of nowhere if they were waiting.

I got up to where she was squatting and there was a bloke down alright, young bloke, about twenty or so. He looked like shit. There was a pile of rocks just nearby, some had been disturbed, must have stirred the old Joe Blake up.

"G'day." I said. "Where'd you get bit?"

The young fella tried to get up and he said something, didn't make sense. I figured he might be in deep shit.

"Don't try to get up mate, lie still, don't help the venom move around."

There was no bandage on him, they didn't know how to treat snake bite. Oh shit.

"Here." I said to her, "Get a couple of of three inch restrictive bandages out of the kit." She looked blank. "The elastic ones." I said.

She ripped open the kit and threw stuff all over, but she came up with the bandages and handed them across.

"Where?" I said.

"On the leg." She said. "The left one, on his calf."

"My head aches." He moaned.

"Can you drive my truck?" I asked the girl and she nodded. "Get it up here." I said. "Quick."

She bolted as I tossed her the keys. I had to keep her busy and I needed the radio in the truck. This bloke needed the Royal Flying Doctor real bad. There was a rough field about ten miles off, the docs could get down there to pick him up, if I could get him there and keep him alive for an hour or so, and if they could fly in before dark, otherwise he was stuffed.

I got on the blower and called the RFD up, the girl was dancing from one foot to the other, the kid was looking pretty crook.

"Right ." I said. "We got to move him, and quick. Lets get him on the truck." She looked confused. "We got to get him in my truck and to the airfield." I explained. "It's about ten miles off." At least that seemed to click. We picked him up together and got him in  the truck. Good old Troop Carrier.

"Does that thing of yours go?" I asked. She nodded. "Follow me." I said and took straight off.

I didn't really want to move him, when a snake bite victim is that sick it's best to bring the help to the victim but I had no choice. If he didn't get help soon, no matter what I did, he'd be dead. The road to the airfield is pretty rough. When I say airfield don't imagine some nice smooth bitumen strip with hangers and stuff. This was an old mining landing strip, rough as guts, and as far as I knew it hadn't been used for about six months, I'd probably have to check it to make sure it was clear before the Doc could land. If he could. Other problem? It was after seven and the sun was going down, there is no twilight out here. The sun goes down and suddenly it's night. I figured we had about forty five minutes of light.

I had my boot well into it, going as fast as I could on the track. I looked in the mirrors and luckily she was keeping up in the little buzz box, when suddenly the young bloke started to choke. Shit! I pulled up quick and jumped into the back. She damn near rammed me but managed to pull up. She came running, I hoped she wasn't going to fly into a panic again as I needed her to keep her head together now more than ever.

"Get in and drive." I yelled at her before she could get wound up. "Just follow the track till you get there and pull over to the left. There should be a windsock."

The young bloke had stopped breathing and I started CPR. I didn't have time for explanation or discussion if he was to have a chance. She drove, and handled my big old four wheel drive pretty well, she pulled up in a cloud of dust and I heard the flying doctor overhead. It was just on dusk.

"Drive to the end of the strip, up wind, face down the strip and put all the bloody lights on." I yelled between breaths, the young bloke was not good.

I felt the vehicle lurch as she took off again. The aircraft circled and overflew the strip, it turned again and began it's final approach. I continued CPR. The bloke was still in big trouble. Before he'd stopped breathing  I'd heard him say some thing about two of everything and that he couldn't keep his eyes open. Typical reactions to the venom, drooping eye lids and double vision I reckoned, but I wasn't sure. I was very busy driving, until I heard him start to choke, that worried me. It was only two hours since he'd been bitten and paralysis didn't usually start till about three hours after the bite. Unless it was a big snake, and a very big, possibly multiple strike, bite.

The Doc was down, the aircraft taxied right up to us and the medical staff bundled out. They took over the CPR and connected him up to everything, the poor bastard looked like a telephone exchange he had so many wires attached. I tried to make myself useful and took the girl aside, she was frantic. Her name was Hayley, not bad looking either. Typical Yank though, you could pick a Yank a mile off. Nice body, Jeans, Levis of course, half a size to small for the bush and a bloody big white hat. They'd call it a western look. Yeah, right, west of bloody what?

The nurse came over and got particulars off Hayley, name, address, next of kin, that shook her, ages, allergies and all the rest. She turned to me. "My car." She started to say.

"Don't worry." I said. "I'll see it's brought in, they're ready to go. You better hop in."

She was no sooner aboard than than the aircraft turned and taxied out, I got sprayed with dust and pebbles and the usual crap. I'd live.


I was three hundred miles out in the bush, with a car to recover and at least two hours behind time getting where I had to go. I sighed and got on the company radio frequency. The Boss was not impressed, but he understood you don't leave anyone in the shit out here in the bush. They'd send a chopper out with a driver from one of the exploration camps. I'd have to wait. An hour or so he said. so I got in the truck and drove back to Hayley's four wheel drive. Her car was slewed sideways and pretty well bogged where she'd locked every thing up to avoid hitting me. I used the GPS to give the chopper pilot an exact location. I muttered to myself and got out the jack. By this time it was almost pitch black and I hunted around for a light. Damn, it must have been shattered when we humped the young bloke into the back of my truck.

I got down on my hands and knees beside her vehicle and moved a heap of sand aside with a shovel. As I went to get up to get the jack I heard it, a grunt and a rushing charge through the bush, headed straight for me. Bloody Razorback! Three hundred pounds of bad tempered, short sighted meat with attitude was charging me. Now I was in trouble. My rifle was back in my truck, fifteen feet away, it might as well have been fifteen miles. I had no dog, no knife and only a silly bloody thirty eight calibre hand gun, in a holster on my belt. The handgun would be more use if I threw it at the pig. They reckon pigs can do twenty five miles an hour, I swear this thing was doing a hundred as it charged me. Somehow I lunged to my feet and and grabbed hold of the little plastic roof rack with one hand. I swung myself up as the pig arrived. It hit me, and the side of  the girl's little truck. I clung on desperately and tried to pull myself all the way up onto the roof. I felt a searing pain in my leg and nearly lost my grip. If I fell back onto  the ground I was history. Somehow I dragged myself up on the roof. The pig charged the truck again and hit it fully side on. I nearly lost my grip again.

I sat on the roof of the truck and looked at my leg, he'd got me, blood and torn muscle every where. The tusk had gone into my right calf and torn a great ragged gash about six inches long. The leg felt useless and I tore off my shirt to make a bandage and stem the flow of blood. I felt sick and light headed. The pain in my leg was a teeth grinding agony and I wondered if I was going to pass out. The bloody pig was down there somewhere I imagined and waiting for me to fall off.  I wondered why it charged me and suddenly the penny dropped. I'd been shoveling sand and he must have heard me and thought it was another pig on his territory, bloody stupid pig. I 'd managed to stop some of the bleeding and figured I had about half an hour to wait for the chopper. They could deal with the pig, I was going to sit up here till they came and rescued me.

The chopper turned up right on cue, it's Mars light lighting up the ground like the sun. I saw the pig, a big old boar with tusks like railway spikes, my blood on one of them. Bastard I thought. The chopper crew saw him too, lurking close to  the truck and waiting to ambush me if I climbed down. A single rifle shot flashed through the night and the pig went down. I was going to have roast pork. The pilot put down as close as he could and the crew ran over to me, they could see I was in the shit.

Anyhow here I am, in the bloody Hospital, in the bed next to the bloke I rescued. He's recovering, but they tell me it was a close call. He'll be in hospital for another week or so yet, and after that it will still take some time for him to get over the bite. It's not to bad though, his sister is pretty cute, and she's very grateful to me for saving her brother's life.

No comments: