John Ball Zoo's venomous reptile keepers, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine students and professionals from Spectrum Health teamed up Thursday, Jan. 25, for a venomous snake bite emergency exercise.

Over 80 professionals from the three institutions combined their skills for the five-hour simulation. A combination of simulated human patients, computer controlled manikins, along with human actors helped re-create symptoms of a venomous bite.

The collaborative drills were an excellent opportunity for the zoo staff, medical students and professionals to gain experience in the emergency of handling venomous snake bites.

"There's actually about 5,000 to 8,000 snake bites a year in the united states," said Bryan Judge, whi is a medical toxicologist and emergency medical physician at Spectrum Health. "[Of those snake bites], there's probably about a half dozen fatalities."

John Ball Zoo's venomous reptile keepers also benefited from the exercise.

"We took advantage of the fact that the hospital does routine simulation events," said Bill Flanagan, curator at John Ball Zoo. "We've practiced this now, and we've written all the protocols.

"What would it actually look like if we had to do it."

The purpose of the simulation was to increase the readiness of both institutions to respond to an accidental envenomation.

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