HEALTH practitioners on the West Coast recently participated in a training session meant to bring awareness to snake species on the island. Public Health Nurse Supervisor Yasmine Gabriel says the training is in-line with plans to make the Anse-La -Raye Wellness Centre a hub for snake bite education.
“The Anse La Raye Wellness Centre is going to be renamed the Centre of Excellence for Snake Bite Education. We do not treat snake bites in our Wellness Centres but we believe that the most crucial measure in reducing fatalities from snake bites is education. So today, we are starting to educate our staff,” Gabriel said in a press statement this week.
The training session covered topics ranging from how to identify snakes which are venomous and how to protect oneself. At present, St. Lucia’s snake population consists of four species, one of which is venomous. Assistant Chief Forestry Officer Pius Haynes says being able to differentiate is very important.
“Our training was focused on… our snakes and their identification. How can we distinguish for example, between the St. Lucia Boa and the St. Lucia Fer- de -lance, because persons have had a lot of issues identifying one from the other. Also, what are some of the ecological requirements, where would you most likely encounter a Fer de lance and a Boa; what constitutes the diet and so on,” Haynes said.
The island boasts a number of animals that are endemic to their location including various species of reptiles. Thus, the prevalence of snakes in and around certain locales come as no surprise, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
“When a snake bites, time is of the essence. This is one of the reasons that the Ministry of Health
and the Ministry of Agriculture have come together to ensure the establishment of a Centre for
Excellence for Snake Bite Education. Staff of Wellness Centres in Region 7 attended the first of many
workshops to come as the Ministry of Health looks towards formalizing the new Centre for Excellence,” the statement read in part.
While Region 7 is being viewed as a well-known snake habitat, the Forestry Division is reporting an
increase in snake sightings around the island. The Assistant Chief Forestry Officer assures the public that the lifesaving anti-venom, though only available at the OKEU Hospital, is always on readily on hand.