Snake-Bite Kit Miscellaneous Medical Equipment
The Snake-Bite Kit, sometimes designated Suction Kit, was a first-aid item used against snake or poison insect bites, and for wounds caused by poison arrows or other missiles. It is to be used together with a Tourniquet. The Kit was distributed among troops operating in closed and remote jungle areas.
The kit was included in Item No. 9776300 – First-Aid Jungle Kit (wood container). In some cases, it would have been used as a personal first-aid item by Aidmen and Hospital Corpsmen or by individual soldiers.
As snake venom acts rapidly, first aid was to be given quickly to prevent the poison from spreading throughout the victim’s body. A Tourniquet was usually applied and was to be placed between the trunk of the body and the bite, when a snake bite had taken place in either an arm or a leg; above the knee, in foot and leg bites; and above the elbow, in hand and arm bites. Iodine was then applied to the area around the bite. Cross incisions were subsequently made over each fang mark. Finally, suction (either by mouth or by suction cup with plunger) was applied to the wound for 20 minutes before loosening the Tourniquet. After suction, sulfanilamide was sprinkled into the incisions and a sterile dressing applied.
Item No. 37055, Kit, Suction, Snakebite is not individually listed under Class 3 Items of the War Department, Medical Department Supply Catalog, dated 1 November 1942 (though Item No. 97663, Kit, First Aid, Jungle is included). It can be found under Appendix – Contents of Chests, Cases, etc.; and Spare Parts, where it is identified as part of Item No. 97763 – Kit, First Aid, Jungle, Component Item No. 37055, Kit, Suction (1 each).
Item No. 37055, Kit, Suction: for snakebite is listed under Class 3, Surgical Appliances, Diagnostic Instruments, Surgical Supplies of the War Department, Medical Department Supply Catalog, June 1, 1943. It is further included under Class 9, Field Equipment and Supplies; Unit Assemblages and Component Parts as Item No. 97763 – Kit, First Aid, Jungle: Aeronautic. It can be found under Section II – Medical Department Assemblages and Component Parts, as Item No. 97763 – Kit, First Aid, Jungle, Component Item No. 37055 Kit, Suction (1 each).
The Army Service Forces Medical Supply Catalog, 1 March 1944, lists Item No. 3705500 Kit, Suction, Snakebite (illustrated) under Class 3 Items – Surgical Appliances, Diagnostic Equipment, and Surgical Supplies. It is further included in part MED 6, Sets: Small Assemblies, Kits and Chests, Item No. 9776300 – Kit, First-Aid, Jungle, Complete, as Component Item No. 3705500 Kit, Suction, Snakebite (1 each).
|3705500 – Kit, Suction, Snakebite (component of 9776300, Kit, First Aid, Jungle, Complete):|
|Container with cover||1|
|Plunger with Suction Cup (oval + round)||1|
|Lancet with cap and holder||1|
|Mild Tincture of Iodine||2|
(the illustrated Kit was manufactured by Saunders Venom Extractor Co., Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA)
Note: there’s another version, i.e. Unit No. 700 SB – Saunders’ Snake Bite Kit manufactured and packaged by the Medical Supply Company, Rockford, Illinois (packed in a hard black plastic container). Similar commercial kits were largely available on the private market as well.