TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A firefighter was hospitalized after he was bitten by a venomous viper while trying to remove it from a bed and breakfast in the northern Taiwan city of Keelung on Wednesday (Nov. 27).
At 12 p.m. on Wednesday, the Keelung Fire Department received a 119 call from the operator of a mountainside bed and breakfast on Zhengbin Road in Keelung City's Zhongzheng District. He requested assistance in removing a snake from inside one of the guest rooms, reported UDN.
When firefighters surnamed Lu (盧) and Tseng (曾) arrived on the scene, the owner said that he had first spotted the snake outside the door of a bathroom before later seeing it in the bathroom. The firefighters assessed that the snake was still inside the toilet stall.
Tseng stood in the rear wearing gloves and holding snake tongs, while Lu stepped forward to open the door of the toilet stall to try to locate the serpent. When he entered the stall, a one-meter-long viper suddenly sprang from the top of the rock wall behind the door and landed on Lu's right hand, instinctively sinking its fangs into his flesh, prompting Lu to shout, "I've been bitten!" reported China Times.
After biting Lu, the snake fell to the ground, and Tseng quickly grabbed it with tongs and tossed it in a cage. The firefighters then confirmed that Lu had been bitten by the highly venomous Taiwan habu, or brown spotted pit viper (Protobothrops mucrosquamatus, 龜殼花蛇).
As Lu's bite wound was swelling rapidly, Tseng rushed him to nearby Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to seek treatment. Fortunately, Lu was quickly administered an antivenom injection and is out of danger, reported SET News.
When Lu's fellow firefighters heard the news of his bite, they were greatly concerned. The incident also revived the debate over whether firefighters should be tasked with capturing snakes without adequate professional equipment.
According to Keelung City statistics, last year, there were 1,681 cases of firefighters being dispatched to remove bees and 921 incidents involving the capture of snakes in the city. As of the end of October this year, firefighters have been dispatched to deal with bees 1,124 times and sent to handle snakes 830 times, reported China Times.