A 6-year-old boy died days after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a family outing in Colorado.
A father and his two children were on a bike ride at Bluestem Prairie Open Space in Security-Widefield on July 5 when they stopped for a water break, according to CBS News.
When he encountered the snake, the boy was on his way back to his father and younger sister after going to look at a mile marker on the trail, reported NBC affiliate KOAA-TV.
“As soon as the kid was bitten the dad grabbed him and started running toward the street … screaming for help,” Security Fire Battalion Chief Derek Chambers, who responded to the father’s call for help, told CBS News.
Chambers told KOAA-TV that authorities arrived on the scene within minutes of receiving the call, but that as the boy’s father did not have his cell phone on him, he had to stop a passerby for assistance.
The boy, who has not been publicly identified by authorities, was transferred to a local hospital but tragically died days later.
“It’s hard to imagine what that family is going through,” Chambers told CBS News.
The Security Fire Department was not immediately available to respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Although rattlesnake bites are not usually fatal for healthy adults, “a bite is nevertheless very painful and it should always be taken seriously,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife wrote in a press release following the tragic incident.
“Rattlesnake venom is hemotoxic and results in the destruction of muscle and soft tissue around the site of the bite,” they wrote. “In extreme cases, reconstructive surgery or even amputation of a finger or limb may be necessary depending on the location of the bite and the immediacy of treatment.”
In the event of a bite occurring, officials say that it’s important to “remain calm” and move to an area away from the snake where the victim “can lie flat and rest comfortably.”
Then, seek medical attention as soon as possible, making sure not to leave the victim alone. “If in a group, send one member to notify local emergency staff and the nearest hospital,” they write, noting that it’s important to carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
As for what not to do, officials urge against using any kind of tourniquet, as “restricting blood flow in this manner puts the bitten extremity at high risk for amputation.”
Trying to suck the venom out should also be avoided as it carries the risk of infecting the wound and possibly infecting the would-be-rescuers should they have “any cuts or sores in the mouth.”
Additional safety information can be found here.