Hastings, Neb. -- Reports of rattlesnake sightings led Mary Lanning Healthcare Center in Hastings to purchase antivenin because, officials say, once you're bitten the first hours are crucial.
Mary Lanning recently purchased $22,000 worth of rattlesnake antivenin after a student golfer claimed to see a rattlesnake on the Southern Hills course in Hastings.
After the report, school officials alerted Mary Lanning to see if they had any medicine in case of a bite.
"When it was brought to our attention that there was a confirmed sighting in the community then we went ahead and discussed whether or not we should bring that on board," said Tom Henry, the Interim Director of Pharmacy Services at Mary Lanning.
The student has since said the picture she claimed was of the snake was actually downloaded from the internet.
The director of the golf course said he believes the snake she saw may have been a bull snake. However, he did acknowledge that rattlesnakes are native to Nebraska
Despite questions of the validate of recent rattlesnake sightings, Thomas Henry said it is still important for the Mary Lanning Healthcare Center to have this new rattlesnake antivenin.
"The habitat for rattlesnakes is from Canada down to Mexico and so with warm weather they're obviously more active," said Henry.
An old saying holds true for rattlesnakes regarding who is afraid of whom.
Henry said, "If the snake knows that there's people around, they will do everything in their power to get away from the people. It's when you catch a snake unaware."
However, if there is a bite the most important thing is to stay calm.
"Get EMS involved. Get to a medical facility as quickly as possible. 99.9 percent of survival rate if antivenin is started within two hours of the incident. Typically death can occur if not treated within 6-48 hours," said Henry.
The benefit of having the medicine in Hastings is it takes 40 minutes to prepare the antivenin.
Henry said, "We have to get the patient here, we have to confirm that there has been a snake bite, and then we have to prepare it. So we've used up a a good portion of that two hour window that essentially guarantees that a patient will survive."
The hospital has enough supply to administer two doses which should be enough to counter the venom, or at least to hold a patient over to get more medicine from Lincoln.