Miami-Dade Antivenom Unit Helps Save Girl in Iraq

Just one of several calls that day

It was only earlier this month that a Miami-Dade fire station was named the busiest in the nation.

Now we are learning that the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Antivenom Unit is one of the most respected in the world.

On Saturday, after a 3-year-old girl in Iraq was bitten by a saw-scaled viper, American military officials placed a call to Capt. Ernie Jillson, head of the antivenom unit as well as a military reservist.

Jillson, who was tending to his lawn in Davie, consulted with doctors and told them that because their patient was a small girl they needed to administer a higher dosage of the horse-blood based antivenom over a longer-than-usual period of time to avoid complications.

He also warned them of the possibility of anaphylactic shock, an adverse reaction to the antivenom.

"It is kind of unique that they're calling me all the way from Iraq," he said. "We're not only here to outreach to our own citizens but to citizens across the whole world."

He said the girl remained in critical condition, but was improving.

Jillson had already taken two others calls that day - a black widow bite in South Miami-Dade and a coral snake bite in New Smyrna Beach. Saturday's call was the second in the last several months from Iraq.

The venom unit also was busy earlier this week when a cable company worker was bitten by a poisonous Eastern green mamba snake. Jillson said the bite briefly paralyzed the right side of the 44-year-old Comcast worker's body. The venom is potentially lethal.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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