2-year-old bitten by rattlesnake while playing in backyard rushed to hospital

A 2-year old girl is in serious but stable condition after a baby rattlesnake bit her while in her yard.

San Bernardino County Fire Engineer Ryan Vaccaro helped save little Madeline. He says she was playing in her yard, in the 13000 block of Stuveling Street in Hesperia, when a diamondback button rattlesnake bit her right hand.

Vacarro says her family called 911, cut off the snake's head and met paramedics at the Chevron near Escondido and Ranchero Rd in Oak Hills. Paramedics rushed the young girl by ambulance from the gas station to a helicopter waiting for her at Oak Hills High School.

"She was extremely upset when we arrived, screaming, crying and in a lot of pain," said Vaccaro. "She did have a lot of swelling to the extremity and it was moving up her arm, so we just definitely wanted to rapidly transport her off the scene."

Rescuers flew Madeline, her mom and the dead button rattler in a bag to Loma Linda University Medical Center, the primary rattlesnake referral center in the region. Emergency toxicologists upgraded Madeline from critical to serious condition.

"The child's body is smaller so they may have a greater risk of developing toxicity," said Loma Linda Medical Toxicologist Brian Wolk. "We actually give them the same dose of anti-venom that we would give an adult because the venom dose is the same."

Wolk says all native venomous snakes in California are rattlesnakes with defined triangular heads, oval eyes and usually visible rattlers. And warmer weather means more rattlesnakes.

Wolk adds most people get bitten while trying to move a snake off their property. If you or a friend gets bitten by a rattlesnake, he says don't try to suck out the venom, try to keep the wounded body part still and seek medical attention immediately.