By Chad Upton | Editor
After the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11/2001, all commercial air traffic was grounded. But, a cross country flight was the only thing that could save one man’s life.
A couple hours after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Lawrence Van Sertima, a snake handler of 40 years, was about to get his first snake bite. He was handling a Taipan snake, one of the most deadly in the world, when it became uncooperative and bit his thumb. He instantly knew he was in trouble.
Since air traffic was grounded, he could not be taken to the hospital by helicopter. It took 40 minutes to get to Miami’s Baptist Hospital by ambulance.
The venom from this particular snake attacks the blood, muscles, kidneys and heart. It’s one of the worst possible scenarios. Within hours he was in critical condition and soon bled from his eyes and mouth.
Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue has a snake bite unit called “Venom 1.” They had 5 vials of a polyvalent antivenin, designed to treat multiple types of snake bites. It helped, and was barely keeping Van Sertima alive. He needed the monovalent antivenin, made from the venom of the Taipan snake, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were only two places that it existed: New York and San Diego.
The chances of getting clearance for a plane to take off from New York were unlikely, so they tried San Diego. The FAA in Washington granted permission for the flight, although it had to be escorted by two fighter jets. Within 45 minutes of landing, the antivenin was being administered.
Van Sertima recovered and learned about the terrorist attacks a few days later.
Bonus: Anti-venom and antivenin are the same thing.
Image: thefixer (cc)