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Lawton firefighters working on educating the public on rattlesnakes

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LAWTON, Okla._After an off-duty Lawton firefighter was bitten by a rattlesnake a few weeks ago, now the Lawton Fire Department is working on educating the public on the dangers of the venomous vipers.

Firefighter Brad Mietchen was bitten at his home while working outside, escaping with just an injured index finger. He survived thanks to some quick thinking and sound advice.

It's some folks' worst nightmare, but just like you and me, these pit viper snakes are calling southwest Oklahoma home sweet home.

"Most encounters are going to be out like in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, and more of the rural settings. It's warm outside, they're cold-blooded, they'll get on a rock in this heat and warm up." said Landon Hardin, medical officer for the Lawton Fire Department.

And that means your likelihood of crossing paths with one of these fanged foes is pretty good.

"They're very well camouflaged and they're predators. Outside of a rattlesnake, they're pretty stealthy so you don't see them until you're right on top of them," explained Hardin.

Incidents like that can lead to the unthinkable. The Lawton Fire Department says taking a strike from one of these serpents is rare, but if it happens, everything you do is crucial. And you may be surprised about some the so-called remedies you've heard about.

"My favorite one is slit the wound or slit the bite open and suck the venom out. That is absolutely wrong. They recommend that you immobilize and if you can position yourself where the bite is below the level of the heart," said Hardin.

And officials say to always stay calm. The less blood pumping, the better off you'll be.

“You're actually sending the venom around faster. I know it's hard, you just got bit by a snake, but if you can sit down and immobilize and remove your jewelry and allow first responders to get there," said Hardin.

But if you're think you're the one that's scared, think again.

"Most times they're not around the hustle and bustle of the city. They are more scared of you than you are of them. Just stay away," said Hardin.

 

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