Tim Cadman is one lucky and very thankful man.
Last month, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to bushland south of Ebor for a reported snake bite incident.
The patient was the esteemed university lecturer Tim, who had taken the day to explore the Cunnawarra National Park.
“I was the guide to a party of four people when after being in the park for about half an hour the ordeal began,” Tim said.
“I’d basically just given everyone the ‘snakes are dangerous at this time of year and only wear long pants’ rave, when I was bitten.
“I thought it was a twig.
“When I realised it was a bite, my walking companion Brett had a compression bandage and this was placed (two of us had first aid kits) and then I lay flat.”
Tim said his partner, Beth, rang for help, “we were in phone range – one reason I take this walk”, while first aid was delivered.
However, when the Westpac Helicopter arrived, the medical team was unable to land at the scene due to incoming weather.
The decision was made to land close to the site and the medical team would approach via road ambulance and then on foot to the patient – all taking precious time.
“It was about an hour, then an hour to sort out logistics, and an hour to stretcher me out to the helicopter,” Tim said.
“Brett went to rendezvous with two ambos, along with two SES members and two police officers.
“I was stabilised with oxygen, and then I was carried out.”
By this stage Tim had a headache and began vomiting, shaking and gagging – “three things that usually result in death or major organ failure”.
He was given anti-nausea drugs intravenously and then the storm came in (hence why he wasn’t winched out).
“At this point I got hypothermia, and started to choke,” he said.
“I got to the ambulance station and was prepped for anti-venom and adrenalin (in case of anaphylaxis).
“Drugs were administered via cannula in the chopper, which was diverted to Lismore Base Hospital due to the weather.
“I survived … but if it had been a brown snake (quick venom) I would have died.”
At the time a Westpac Helicopter spokesperson said, “the patient was assessed for symptoms of envenomation and given anti-venom, which resulted in rapid recovery. The patient was flown back to Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition”.
Tim spent one night, on-watch for 72 hours, and then was treated at “our fantastic Bello hospital”.
Only just recovered, nearly two weeks on, the ordeal has left Tim, unsurprisingly, extremely grateful to the those who came in his hour of need.
“I would like to extend a big thank you to the State's various rescue services,” he said.
“They saved my life from the bite of a tiger snake.
“Everyone was fantastic, from my friends who kept me from panicking, to Carlos the first ambo to arrive on scene, Simon the doctor in the chopper, and the wonderful care I received at Lismore.
“I cannot say how lucky we are to live in Australia, with our amazing medical system.
“If this had happened in Nepal where I travel regularly, I would be dead; in the US, I would be bankrupt.
“Let me tell you: I am a very happy taxpayer.”