A special thank you to Myles Francis of Archangel Dynamics for allowing me to publish his Tactical Medicine posts here on Vigilant Wolf. Myles is a friend and past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (episode 59).
Scorpions! After the response from my Snakebite post, I decided to continue with the #arizonaisamericasaustralia theme & discuss Scorpion stings. Although I discuss species common to Arizona, they spread across the American Southwest, & first aid will be pretty much the same for other species around the country. As always: this post is provided for educational / information purposes only. Follow your local protocols, we are not responsible for what you choose to do with this information.
Arizona has several species of scorpion. The most common are the Giant Hairy, the Stripe Tailed & the Bark Scorpion. Giant Hairy scorpions are, well, Giant & Hairy. The Stripe Tailed is so named from dark stripes on the sides of its tail. These two are big, beefy scorpions with robust pedipalps (pincers) & a thick tail. Bark scorpions are much smaller,& are easily identifiable by their small pedipalps & long, slender tail.
The Giant Harry & Striped Tail scorpions possess a benign venom, described as feeling like a bee sting. The Bark Scorpion, however, possess a venom that can be deadly in certain patient populations (mainly the elderly, young children & infants). Symptoms commonly include headache, pain / tenderness at the sting site, & for some, nausea & vomiting. The pain can be quite extreme, described as burning electrical sensations.
However. In extremely rare cases, the venom can cause a slew of neurological effects. A neuromotor condition can cause seizure like activity which can lead to airway compromise. The venom can also cause a violent nystagmus (rhythmic movement of the eyes). Paralysis can also occur. Now, here’s the good news. In the extremely rare case of severe envenomation & toxicity, an antivenom does exist! The drug is called Anascorp & was developed in Mexico. Most hospitals in the American Southwest either stock it in their ER’s or have access to it. So, what should you do if you or a loved one are stung? See the comments below!
1: BURN THE HOUSE DOWN!!!! Sorry, that is what my wife would do. Ok, seriously - Remain calm. Much like snake bite, keeping your heart rate down can limit the effects of the venom.
2. Get help. If you or your child is in severe distress, immediately call 911. We respond to a ton of these calls every year, and every now and then, its pretty dang serious. For less serious stings, you can call your primary care provider, or your child’s pediatrician. You will likely be advised to take an over the counter pain medication (like Tylenol) and apply a cold compress to the site (NOT AN ICE PACK, a cool cloth).
3. Just like snake bites, venom extractors and kits are ineffective. Remember - the venom instantly circulates in the blood stream, these kits will cause further damage and delay care. See our previous post.
4. For the First Responders? Simple. You know what sick looks like (In this case? Paralysis, respiratory distress, nystagmus, seizure like activity): Manage ABCs, take the airway if you need too. Treat the pain! Obligatory IV/O2/Monitor. Transport your patient to a facility that carries Anascorp, and for kiddos, a facility with a Pediatric ICU.
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& follow Myles Francis on Instagram @Archangeldynamicsllc