Victim’s background: Parmar Natubhai Hamirbhai was a 56 yr old construction labourer from Khadol village in the Dhandhuka taluka, Dist Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Apart from his day job as a construction worker, he was also a snake rescuer and villagers from in and around Khadol used to knock at his door to rescue snakes from their houses and farm. Natubhai had been rescuing snakes for the last three decades and was previously bitten by snakes. Natubhai is survived by Madhuben, his wife and three children, Chandrika, Hira and Upendra.
Bite incident: On Thursday, 18th June 2015 a villager came calling Natubhai to help remove a Cobra from his courtyard. The villager had tried his best to move the snake away from his house. However the snake was trapped and being cornered took refuge in a hole.
It was around 10.30pm. Natubhai had consumed liquor that evening and was sleeping. His wife tried to dissuade the villager but the loud conversation woke him up and he proceeded along with the villager to remove the snake from his house..
When the duo reached the house, the Cobra had come out of the hole a little bit. Natubhai caught the snake by pinning its head. He held the snakes head at an angle for the snake to be able to twist its head and bite his palm. Natubhai shrug off the snake and the reptile quickly slithered back into the hole where it was hiding earlier.
When the snake didn’t come out of the hole for a while, Natubhai put his hand in the hole and pulled out the snake. The agitated snake bit Natubhai once again on his hand. Natubhai captured the snake in a plastic jar to be released near by. He then made slight incisions near the bite area and sucked out the blood . Natubhai believed that venom could be extracted from the body in this way.
Natubhai released the snake in the fields a little away from the village. He didn’t confide about the bite incident to his family. He came back around 11.30pm, eat his dinner and while he was preparing to go to sleep, he started vomiting. When his family got to know about the cobra bite incident, they quickly called 108 helpline for an ambulance to take Natubhai to the nearest Govt hospital. The vehicle arrived in 30mins. The paramedics tried to revive him. However Natubhai expired a little after 12am (2..5 hours after the bite had occurred).
This story was reported by Vijay Rathod, a school teacher in Shree Dholi-Bhal Primary School, Limbdi. Gujarat.
Written by Priyanka Kadam.
Note from the author: Snakebite Healing and Education Society is documenting stories of rescuers who turned victims. Most rescuers in India have little knowledge of how to administer first aid in a snakebite situation. This story is one amongst the many we will be documenting to create awareness amongst the rescuer community. Every month rescuers die across India as they have not learnt to manage the risk associated with handling venomous snakes.