Rattlesnake Bite Victim's Father Explains Actions

According to the father, he was trying to "close the gap" between the boy and the ambulance

By Tony Shin
|  Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012  |  Updated 8:09 AM PDT
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The father of a rattlesnake bite victim defends his actions, saying he had to drive the child away from the family's home because they didn't have a home phone, or cellphone reception. NBC 7's Tony Shin spoke with the father and with Keith Vaux, M.D. at Rady Children's Hospital.

The father of a rattlesnake bite victim defends his actions, saying he had to drive the child away from the family's home because they didn't have a home phone, or cellphone reception. NBC 7's Tony Shin spoke with the father and with Keith Vaux, M.D. at Rady Children's Hospital.

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Child Recovers From Rattlesnake Bite

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A child injured by a rattlesnake bite in San Diego’s East County is expected to be released from the hospital Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the boy’s father spoke with NBCSanDiego to explain his actions the day his toddler was bitten in the forearm on a rural road in Deerhorn Valley east of Jamul.

The man asked not to be identified but said other media outlets have been critical of the way he handled the situation. He believes any parent facing the same circumstances he did that afternoon would have done the same thing. 

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The two-year-old boy was playing on a dirt driveway near his home with his mother and 4-year-old brother when he was bitten by what’s believed to have been a mature rattlesnake.

Because the family had just moved into the home and didn't have a home phone, or cellphone reception, the boy’s father immediately put his son in the family’s SUV and began driving.

The only way the parents of the boy could communicate with 911 was through the SUV's Onstar security system but they were disconnected twice because of the spotty coverage.

On a recording of a 911 call from the incident, a dispatcher can be heard saying, “Let them know we can't help them unless they stop on the side of the road, we don't chase cars."

According to the father, he was trying to "close the gap" between the boy and the ambulance.

“The father didn't want to pull over, he wanted to keep heading towards, he felt he could get to the hospital quicker than what we could get to them,” said Div. Chief Gary Croucher with San Miguel Fire District.

When the family got to Jamul Fire Station 36, they realized the crew was on another call.

The SUV also struck the curb and blew a tire so the father decided to continue to drive west on State Route 94 toward help until the vehicle finally broke down near an Italian restaurant.

A neighbor, who had been following the SUV gave the family a ride and met up with an emergency crew who was able to administer immediate care to the boy and transport him to Rady Children's Hospital.

Keith Vaux, M.D. works at the hospital and told NBCSanDiego time is a factor when dealing with rattlesnake bites.

"You really have four hours to get that antivenin in, before it's not as effective," Vaux said.

However, Vaux said in almost every situation it's better to wait for help to come to you.

"Don't panic. Don't get ice out. Don't cut it. Don't try to suck it out or anything like that,” he said. “Just keep everybody nice and calm and call 911."

Croucher said fire crews deal with this type of emotional call every day.

“Parents, their emotions are very high at the time, which typically if your emotions are high, your reasoning is down,” he said. “This is something we deal with, we have protocols. The 911 dispatcher knows what needs to be done.”

The boy is said to be recovering well and should be released sometime Tuesday.

Would you do the same thing? Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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