Woman survives deadly GPS error

Lee, Lyn, Cody and Jocelyn Hennig in the lounge room of their Veteran home.
Lee, Lyn, Cody and Jocelyn Hennig in the lounge room of their Veteran home. Renee Pilcher

THE notorious inadequacy of many vehicle GPS systems has nearly cost the life of a Veteran snake-bite victim.

The problem occurred when ambulance officers ignored human directions and apparently did not have a more accurate printed map.

GPS systems are often inaccurate in rural and regional districts, where they sometimes direct drivers to where the road is supposed to be rather than where it really is.

For Lyn Hennig, a potentially fatal delay followed the ambulance decision to follow GPS directions, which led them to the wrong Meredith Rd.

Mrs Hennig explained that, as vital minutes ticked away, the ambulance came to a dead end, where Meredith Rd is cut by a creek, forcing ambos to back track and circle around to the other end, where the Hennigs live.

"It's gazetted as a road, but it has never been connected," husband Lee explained.

"They needed to listen to us. We begged them not to use the GPS," he said.

The number 13 is certainly lucky for Lyn; bitten on November 13, she was saved by her daughter, Jocelyn, 13, who applied the pressure bandage and performed first aid under directions provided over the phone.

"Her foot was blue, I put it on that tight," Jocelyn said.

"We just rang Triple-0 and said, 'Please don't use the GPS because people get confused," Mrs Hennig said.

She did not expect a snake to be lurking almost invisibly in a closely-mown lawn, when she was watering some recently-planted small hedge plants in an otherwise bare garden.

"I fell over trying to scramble backwards and it came after me. It was big and I'm terrified of them anyway," she said.

"We were told the ambulance would be there in 10 minutes, but another 15 minutes went by.

"I thought I was dead.

"It was 35 minutes by the time they got to me and even then we had to drive to meet them."

Lyn's son Cody, 11, ran up from the creek and told his father, who immediately drove up to the house on the tractor.

"Cody ran so fast he beat the tractor up the hill," Mrs Hennig said.

She said she was hoping it was a dry bite, but then her head started aching and her eyes became "really sore".

"They did a test (at Gympie Hospital) and it showed my blood was changing.

"Then they did a swab and confirmed it was a brown snake."

From there it was a race against time as the antivenene dripped slowly into her blood while the venom continued its deadly work.

"They gave me two lots and then transferred me to Nambour because I wasn't responding properly.

"It can cause kidney and liver failure and brain haemorrhage, but by the time we got to Nambour the blood was starting to go back to normal."

Bitten on the 13th, saved by her daughter, 13, Mrs Hennig also has 13 grandchildren.

"When I bought a ticket in a Movember raffle, I said I'd better have Number 13," she said as she recovered this week.


Gympie Times

Topics:  gps snake bite

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