When it comes to snakes in Miami-Dade County, no one is more experienced than the famed Venom One team, a venom response team of volunteer paramedic firefighters who specialize in evacuating and treating victims of venomous snakebites. As southern Florida contains some of the country’s most venomous snakes, it’s no wonder the Venom One Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s response team is kept very busy.
So how does the Venom One team work and why are they credited with changing the way paramedics respond to snakebite emergencies nationwide?
How Venom One Got Its Bite
Captain Al Cruz founded Miami-Dade's Venom Response Program team in July 1998 after responding to a poisonous snake bite incident. Cruiz is a firefighter and paramedic who saw the need for a highly engaged team of trained professionals to handle the large number of snakebites and other emergencies associated with venomous snakes. As Miami-Dade County is home to a large number of deadly snakes—and is also a favored port of entry for illegal snake smuggling—the need for a specialized team became crucial. As such, the Venom One Response Team is the only organization in the United States that’s specifically trained to deal with venomous snakes and snakebite emergencies.
In the United States, it’s estimated that over 1,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year—and a quarter of those cases are in southern Florida alone. Only about a third of these bites are received in the snake’s natural habitat during hunting and hiking expeditions.
The remaining are caused when people handle poisonous snakes intentionally. For some reason, young men are much more likely than women to receive a poisonous snakebite.
In addition to being the only snakebite response team in America, Venom One also holds another unique honor: its collection of antivenoms is one of the most extensive in the world.
As operators at the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Antivenom Bank, the Venom One team has access to 25 different antidotes that can treat venomous snakebites from approximately 95% of the world’s snake population. If you’re interested in more detail, the Venom One website provides a complete list of covered species. In fact, the Venom One response team has been called on for emergencies in Canada, Mexico and even across the world in French Guyana.
Promoting Safety and Education
Venom One also works hard to promote venomous snakebite safety information and education to residents of Miami-Dade County. For example, Venom One holds a special Snake Day every year at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, where volunteers teach children how to recognize venomous snakes and what they should do in case they’re bitten by one.
More About Venom One
The Venom One team has handled over 1,000 cases since their founding in 1998. You can review a complete list of their cases on their website. If you’re ever in an emergency where you’ve been bitten by a venomous snake, don’t be surprised to see the paramedic firefighters of Venom One on your doorstep!