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Teen bitten 6 times by rattlesnakes while searching for cell signal

November 13, 2012 |  9:05 am

A 16-year-old El Cajon girl is lucky to be alive after being bitten at least six times by rattlesnakes.

"On a scale from 1 to 10 the pain was 45," Vera Oliphant recalled.

The young woman was visiting her uncle in Jamul, Calif., east of San Diego about two weeks ago when she decided to walk up a hill, searching for cell phone reception.

"I heard them all over, I heard the rattles, then I ran," said Oliphant.

In her attempt to run back to her uncle's, she stepped right into a rattlesnake's nest.

"My entire body started swelling," said the teen.

She hobbled back to her uncle who was able to get her to the emergency room at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

"The doctors told me I was lucky to be alive," said Oliphant, who spent four days in intensive care.

"If you get bitten by a snake, the first thing to remember, is that you have more time than you think you do," said Dr. Jordan Cohen of Sharp Grossmont.

Cohen, who said he's seen his share of snakebites, explained that when it comes to this type of injury, many of the well-known first aid techniques often used in the wilderness don't apply. He advised to get to the emergency room as soon as possible and try to stay immobile. Tourniquets and suction are not advised, he said.

Oliphant said her complete recovery will take several more weeks. In the meantime, she said, "I'll never go out in the desert by myself, and I'll be sure to wear boots."

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-- Fox 5 San Diego

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