I’ve been traveling down the east of coast of Queensland for the last two weeks with three of my friends from USyd. On the way, we’ve been enjoying the Australian wildlife.
Australia is famous for its cute and cuddly animals. It’s true: wallabies are cute! However, Australia is equally notorious for its dangerous and poisonous animals. The amount of articles/memes/Buzzfeed posts about Oz’s freaky animals is absurd.
Usually, these are easy to laugh off.
Sometimes, though, it’s not so easy.
As my friends and I found three nights ago.
We were in a cute little coastal town in southern Queensland. The weather was beautiful, so we had spent the day at the beach. After a long dinner at a beachside restaurant, we were walking home to our hostel.
Our friend was bitten by a snake.
We inspected our friend’s ankle. There was only one fang mark, and though it was bleeding a bit, she said it barely hurt and mostly itched. We decided to return to the restaurant.
From there, we called 000, the emergency number in Australia. The emergency services sent us an ambulance. Fifteen minutes later, a paramedic arrived to inspect our friend’s wound.
At this point, our friend was feeling weak in her bitten leg. It might have been just from panic, as the paramedic concluded that our friend showed no symptoms of snake venom. Since we didn’t know what kind of snake bit her, though, he decided to take her to the ER anyway. We followed her to the hospital, where we sat around in the waiting room.
After a long wait, a nurse came out to greet us.
Our friend was still strapped to her stretcher, coherent, but worried.
It’s standard procedure in Australia, apparently, to monitor snake bite victims after the initial injury. However, this small hospital didn’t have the proper equipment to do this. They had to move her to a hospital about a half hour away.
One of us stayed in the hospital with her. The remaining friend and I went back to our hostel. We wouldn’t all be able to stay the night in the hospital, after all, and we had already had our hostel booked, and someone had to pack up the luggage and get the rental car the next morning.
My friend and I went back and did exactly that.
There was only one problem.
Our friend with the snakebite was also our driver, you see. She was the only one who was comfortable with, and had experience with, driving in Australia. The roads here are a bit weird: people drive on the left, not the right.
Now, we were without a driver. What do we do?
Somehow, we made it to the hospital without dying. After an hour’s wait, the wound was declared non-venomous and our friend was discharged.
Because my friend had to have her blood checked throughout the night, she had barely slept at all. My friend who had stayed with her wasn’t much better off. But we had an itinerary to follow. Our hostel for that night was already booked, in a town about 4 to 5 hours away.
Thus, my friends and I got to have the authentic Australian experience. Driving on the left side of the road? Hospitalized due to snakebite? Seriously, all we needed now was to be attacked by a spider or stung by a jellyfish.
But that didn’t happen until a couple days later.
And that’s how we called the paramedics twice in three days.
(Don’t worry, though– we’re all fine!)