When Mother Nature Bites Back

Law enforcement officers face a variety of threats on a daily basis. Domestic violence calls, ambush, and vehicle accidents – the list goes on and on. However, there are a special category of threats which exist in almost every jurisdiction and are rarely discussed in any academy or the topic of any yearly updates – those created by Mother Nature.

Although snakes, spiders and insects may be the farthest thing from your mind when it comes to threat evaluation, each is a real danger and can affect officers in any jurisdiction. Yes, it is more likely that officers in more remote rural areas will face such dangers, but there is no magic barrier which prevents these creatures from entering the city limits. This is especially true given the growing trend of many to collect the most deadly of these species as a hobby, or even as a potential source of income.


Unlike Ireland, the United States is populated by dozens of species of snakes; in fact, they can be found in every state and in nearly every environment at some point during their life cycle. Most species native to the U.S. are benign, meaning they are non-venomous in nature. While a bite from any animal, including non-venomous snakes, holds the possibility for medical complications such as infection, they are generally non-life threatening and require little medical attention.  However, there are several venomous species which are capable of inflicting painful, debilitating bites. Depending upon the specific species, the lack of prompt medical attention can result in disability or even death.

If you work in an area known to be populated by venomous snakes, you should take the time to learn what they look like, especially if easily confused with a local non-venomous species. Next, you need to understand the basic treatment requirements should you be bitten. Will you have time to transport yourself to the ER or will immediate emergency care be necessary? If anti-venom is required, is there any available at local hospitals? When in doubt, treat any snake bite as potentially venomous.


SpiderIt is estimated that there are over 3,000 species of spiders in the U.S. alone, and all but one family of spiders are considered venomous – although many are not considered to be a threat to humans. However, those species which are considered a threat can pose a very serious threat indeed. Three main species top this list – black widows, brown recluse and the hobo spider. Each of these species is capable of inflicting very painful bites and, if untreated, can lead to severe tissue damage or even death.

If bitten by a spider, remain calm and attempt to identify the specific species as this can aid in determining necessary treatment. The Center for Disease Control recommends all spider bites be washed with soap and water, covered with a cold dressing to reduce swelling and elevated if possible. Immediately seek professional medical attention, even if initial symptoms do not appear to indicate venom is present.


Ants, mosquitos and chiggers are but a few of the biting insects which pose a potential hazard to anyone who works outdoors. Of course, there is also the most famous threat – the tick. All of these insects, and dozens of their cousins, present the potential for not only a painful bite but also the possible transmission of disease. Again, the first step in protection is identifying those species which may be found in your jurisdiction. The second step is prevention – if operating in an area suspected of harboring dangerous insects, you should wear appropriate clothing, use an insect repellant (those containing DEET are recommended) and avoid wearing perfume or cologne which may attract them.

Most insect bites result in little more than a local irritation or itching and require little in the way of medical attention. Others, such as the deer tick, are known to transmit a wide range of diseases including Lyme disease. If bitten, take care if removal of the attacker is necessary. Improper removal is likely to result in further irritation or even infection. Once the insect is removed, the area should be washed with soap and warm water. Next, if you suspect you have been bitten by a species known to carry disease, you should immediately seek medical attention.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *