A Madison County girl was bitten by a poisonous snake while playing outside at a friend’s home April 21.
Savannah Chandler, a fifth grader at Ila Elementary School, was airlifted to Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta for treatment, according to E-911 records.
Savannah, 11, was playing in the yard of a friend’s home on Hill Street in Comer, when she stepped down in some brush and leaves where the snake was. The reptile bit her just above the right ankle.
Mom Patsy Chandler said she was at home when she received a call from the other child’s mother, who told her that Savannah had been bitten. Chandler and her husband George headed towards Comer, thinking it would probably mean a visit to the emergency room.
On the way, they received another call from the friend’s mother, this time telling them that the area was starting to turn purple and swell. At that point, they called 9-1-1.
“The ambulance actually passed us as we were on the road,” Mrs. Chandler remembers.
Paramedics at the scene determined that it was most likely a copperhead bite, but looked around to find the animal to confirm. The snake was located and taken to the hospital with Savannah when she was airlifted by a medical helicopter from the Ingles parking lot.
Chandler rode with her daughter and they arrived at the hospital around 7:10 p.m. She said Savannah remained very calm and alert throughout, even remarking over passing over Stone Mountain on their way into Atlanta.
She was admitted to the ICU later that night so doctors could monitor the swelling. Chandler said she was surprised to learn that they did not immediately give anti-venom for the bite.
“They said studies are showing patients are better off without the anti-venom, if possible, because it can cause so many side effects itself,” she said.
The medical team measured the swelling in Savannah’s foot and leg every two hours and gave her pain medication. Chandler said there was concern when the swelling progressed above the knee, but it then began to subside.
Savannah was released from the hospital Monday afternoon.
Chandler said the family is very grateful for all the prayers that went up as soon as the community and their church became aware of the situation.
“We are giving God all the glory for this,” she said.
She said that EMS personnel and life flight medical personnel were also very efficient and helpful.
“Please be aware of this danger for yourself and your children,” Chandler said. “I don’t want people to be afraid (of snakes), just be aware of them.”
She said hospital personnel told her that a copperhead bite is not considered to be deadly and that the snakes seem to be more prevalent in an area after a good rain – such as the one last week.
Doctors have estimated it may take four to six weeks for the swelling to go down and life to return to normal, which may mean the gifted student won’t make it back to class before school is out.
“Right now she’s keeping it elevated, but it’s very painful when she has to get up and walk at all,” Chandler said.
Teacher Kam Bennett, who has taught Savannah in gifted classes since the first grade, said Savannah is a “sweetheart.”
“She is just a fun, sweet, smart little girl,” Bennett said.
EMS director Jason Lewis said a snakebite call is not a common one in this area, despite the fact that many snakes live in the South.
“Even then, the majority of those calls are for non-venomous snake bites,” he said, but cautioned that any snakebite should prompt a call to 9-1-1 so that the wound can be evaluated by medical professionals.
I shutter to think what this summer holds for us regarding snakes! I've killed at least two every time weed-eated this year so far! Last Friday my small terrior mix dog was bitten twice by what the vet thinks was rattle! So far only killed copperhead's and water moccossion's. Did not see what got my dog. Desperately seeking to rent somewhere else!! He is doing better also, God is awesome! Anyone reading this, PLEASE, be careful when going out. I worry about them coming inside!
It's a good article, Margie, and timely too. It's good to hear that Savannah is well on the way to recovery. I've heard from several people that snakes are really out and about this year. Be careful everybody!
It is good to know that she is now healthy enough to get back to home. In the last few weeks we have many cases of snakes bites in different parts of US and that is mainly because of the increasing temperatures that make these snakes come out of their winter dens. The girl was fortunate enough to get medical attention within minutes as she is living in such part of the world but there are many people in different parts of the world that don't have the facilities of get medical help quick enough after bitten by a venomous snakes. Interested to know more about different venomous snakes bites? visit venomoussnakes.net/snakebites.htm