SECURITY-WIDEFIELD — The Security Fire Department confirmed the death of a 6-year-old boy from a rattlesnake bite that happened at Bluestem Prairies Open Space in Security-Widefield on Monday.
Around 8 p.m. on July 5, authorities responded to the trail where the boy had been bitten. The fire department said the boy was with his father and younger sister riding bikes on the trail when he got off his bike to look at a mile marker. On his way back, he encountered the rattlesnake and that's when authorities said he was bitten.
Derek Chambers, Security Fire Department Battalion Chief, said the boy's father did not have his cell phone at the time and stopped a passerby to call 911.
Chambers said he arrived on the scene around five minutes after the 911 call and immediately called a lifeline for transport to a local hospital. The boy was instead taken by ambulance to Colorado Springs Children's Hospital.
Although rattlesnakes are common near the trail, Chambers said the death is the first of its kind he's seen in his 12 years with the department.
"Responding on kids is the worst part of our job. If it's anything that has to do with a kid that automatically pushes us into a different demeanor, really," he said.
Travis Sauder, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Assistant Area Wildlife Manager, said now is the peak time of activity for rattlesnakes in Colorado.
"In particular, dry rocky areas, the short grass prairie, those are the primary places that they like to be," Sauder said. "Rattlesnakes are not inherently dangerous, so the big thing is just to be aware of your surroundings so that you don't accidentally stumble upon one and then cause it to have that defensive reaction."
He said rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake in Colorado, but commonly get confused with bull snakes, which aren't venomous. The difference between the two is in the head shape and tail: rattlesnakes have a triangular-shaped head and a distinct rattle on their tail while bull snakes have a rounder head and no rattle. Sauder said bull snakes can make a rattling sound, but that it's caused by their scales rubbing against each other and along the ground.
If you ever encounter a rattlesnake, Sauder recommends moving slow and staying calm.
"Back away slowly and just leave the area. If you have to walk around it on the trail, give it plenty of space. And again, they're not necessarily going to come after you, they just want to be left alone," he said.
In the case of a rattlesnake bite, he said do not make a tourniquet or try to suck the venom out. Instead, keep the bitten limb or area below your heart for better blood flow and get medical attention as soon as possible.
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