Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First Aid - When Animals Attack!

So you're on the third pitch of a route when you accidentally annoy a cute and fuzzy squirrel. And while squirrels are cute and fuzzy, they also have very sharp teeth. So while finishing your lead, you note that the cute and fuzzy squirrel has fastened his not-so-cute and not-so-fuzzy teeth to your wrist...

So obviously, you do what any big and tough climber would do in such a situation...you scream like a little girl.

You scream and you scream. And the squirrel looks at you like it's possessed by the devil and its no longer cute and fuzzy at all. In fact, at that moment, you know that you will have nightmares about squirrels attacking you for the rest of your life. Every time you see a little fuzzy animal -- even a happy teddy bear at Build-a-Bear -- you'll roll up in a little ball and sob...

And while all that is going through your head, your partner laughs.

And then tells everyone about your little girl scream for years and years and years.

While being attacked by a squirrel might give your partner a great story, it could also be very dangerous. Animal bites can happen on any type of trip. And the most important thing a victim can do is to note what kind of animal it was that attacked and what the nature of the attack was. Were you poking it with a stick and throwing rocks at the animal, did you disturb it's "nest," or did it just seem to attack for no reason?

Don't mess with me, I've got a lot more than rabies.

Unprovoked animal bites are particularly dangerous. The unfortunate likelyhood is that warrantless animal attacks are due to rabies, which is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment. As a result, animal bites must be taken extremely seriously and medical attention should be sought with all animal bites.

Puncture wounds are also dangerous. Animals teeth are covered in bacteria and a bite that breaks the skin could inject said bacteria deep into the tissue. Infection from such a bite develops extremely quickly. A serious infection can develop in as little at 24 hours. Tetanus -- a life-threatening illness -- can develop from any bite, human or animal.

Additionally, bites to the hand, the wrist, the foot or a joint can be very serious. Bite wounds to the hand may result in major complications because the skin's surface is so close to the underlying bones and joints. Other wounds in such areas could create life-long disabilities without proper treatment and antibiotics.

The jist of this is that while being bit by a squirrel might be funny to your partner...all animal bites should be seen as serious events and medical attention should always be sought. Once you're better you can beat-up on your partner for spreading rumors about your childlike scream...

--Jason D. Martin

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