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Video: Teen searching for cell signal wanders into rattlesnake pit

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. — 16-year-old Vera Oliphant shows the scars left behind after being attacked by a group of rattlesnakes.

It happened while she was visiting her uncle in a rural area of inland southern California two weeks ago. She was walking up a hill trying to get a cell phone signal when she heard the rattling.

“I ran backwards and I stepped into a pit of snakes,” Oliphant said.

She was bitten at least six times and said her body instantly starting going numb. She limped back to her uncle’s house as fast as possible, and he was able to get her to an emergency room.

She was in intensive care for four days. Later, she told KSWB what she learned from the incident.

“If you’re in a desert, 1) wear boots, and 2) don’t bring your cell phone or go searching for reception,” Oliphant said. “You probably won’t find it anyways, and you might step into a pit of rattlesnakes.”

Dr. Jordan Cohen at Sharp Grossmont Hospital has seen his fair share of rattlesnake bites, and said the important thing to do if you sustain one is not to panic.

“You have more time than you think you do,” he said.

But he also said many well-known techniques used by some in the wild don’t actually work.

Here are four things that Cohen said you should do if bitten by a rattlesnake:

  1. Try not to move
  2. Don’t use any suction (i.e. don’t try to suck out the poison), because it can worsen future infections.
  3. Don’t use a tourniquet, because it can cause more harm than good.
  4. Get to an emergency room ASAP.

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