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JAMUL, Calif. — A Southern California teen is lucky to be alive after being bitten by a rattlesnake at least six times while looking for a cellphone signal.
Vera Oliphant was visiting an uncle in a San Diego suburb when she walked up a hill to search for cellphone reception. She told the Los Angeles Times she heard rattlesnakes "all over," and attempted to run back to her uncle's house, but stepped on a rattlesnake nest.
Oliphant blacked out for a time, and when she finally stumbled back to her uncle's home, she lacked the strength to knock on the door. Instead, she used her keys to tap on the window, and when she got inside, she made a tourniquet out of a cellphone charger.
- Remain calm. Do not panic.
- Stay at least five feet from the snake. Give the rattlesnake respect and space.
- Do not try to kill the snake. Doing so is illegal and greatly increases the chance the snake will bite you. Most bites occur when untrained people are trying to kill or harass a snake, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
- Alert people to the snake's location. Advise them to use caution and to respect the snake.
- Keep children and pets away.
"I couldn't even tie it because my hands were just, like, super shaky," Oliphant told CBS 8.
Her uncle took her to a local emergency room, where she was told she was lucky to be alive, and that the tourniquet — something that was generally thought to be good practice until recent years — was probably a bad idea, as was sucking out the venom, which her uncle did.
"We don't recommend anyone sucking on the wound," said Dr. Jordan Cohen at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. "Generally what happens is they will super-infect the wound even worse through human saliva."
Instead, if you are bitten by a rattlesnake, get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Do not create a tourniquet and do not use ice on the area.
Oliphant remained in the intensive care unit for four days, receiving 24 vials of antivenom. She is still recovering, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Frame grab credit: CBS 8