Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide

By Peter Leggat In   Issue Volume 18 No. 4 .

Rachel Jensen, Bill Nimorakiotakis, Tim Carroll and Kenneth Winkel*

*1st edn, (ii) + 18 pp, paperback compendium with extensive illustrations, Parkville, CSL Limited, RRP: $9.95, 2007.

Australia is home to some of the  world’s most venomous snakes, jellyfish, spiders and other creatures, whose venomous properties are described elsewhere.1 Many readers will recall the first publication in 1995 of the CSL Antivenom Handbook,2 which was last published as the second edition in 2001 and is available online.3 This publication, Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide, also by CSL, is a worthy companion publication, which is directed primarily at the general public and is an excellent resource for the medical clinic. All first aiders, whether amongst clinicians or the general public, are regularly confronted with a formidable task of evaluating and potentially treating envenomed patients, sometimes under life-threatening circumstances. The availability today of a number of toxinology and envenomation reference publications in recent years has assisted greatly; however there is no substitute for a ready reference guide. The 1st edition of the Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide is such a reference and one which has established itself as a leading practical guide in Australia dealing with the first aid of envenomation.

The Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide is presented as a 20-page A5 publication that would fit easily into the briefcase, carry bag or first aid kit. The Guide is in full colour with a durable semi-gloss, laminated cover and its pages are clearly tagged and colour-coded for ready reference. It has eight sections, namely “General First Aid”, “Pressure Immobilisation Method”, “Snakes”, “Spiders”, “Jellyfish”, “Aquatic Creatures”, “Creepy Crawlies” and ‘Insects”. Important first aid measures are clearly highlighted in boxes within the text. It has numerous diagrams and figures to help explain first aid techniques, as well as more than 30 well chosen colour plates of common Australian venomous creatures, which have tremendous educational value, as much as assisting with identification of venomous creatures. Because of the nature of this diverse publication, it also includes a list of reviewers and key references. Most importantly, it has been co-produced by the Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU) of the University of Melbourne and two of the authors come from the AVRU (BN & KW) with the other two authors coming from CSL Limited (RJ, TC).

The consistent and concise style ensures that the Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide is easy to use. Given that this is only the first edition of the Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide, it is a remarkably mature reference Guide, which is a credit to both the authors and publishers. The Australian Venomous Creatures First Aid Guide has little competition nationally, except in the form of concise first aid books and posters and larger more comprehensive toxinology monographs. The cost is not prohibitive for health staff, medical clinics and workplaces, although it may deter some members of the general public. In that event, it may be useful to upload this publication to the website, in much the same way as the 2nd edition of the CSL Antivenom Handbook.3



1.      Currie BJ. Snakes, jellyfish and spiders. Adv Exp Med Biol 2008; 609: 43-52. 2.      White J. CSL Antivenom Handbook. Parkville: CSL Limited, 1995. 3.      White J. CSL Antivenom Handbook. 2nd edn. Parkville: CSL Limited, 2001. URL. (accessed 27 July 2010)

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