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Quick-thinking parents save son after funnel web spider bite

A quick-thinking mum and dad saved their son from the wrath of a deadly spider in the Southern Highlands last week. 

Seven-year-old Riley Schmidt was ready to dress up in his Harry Potter costume last Sunday just before 6pm - but something deadly hiding inside the outfit stopped him. 

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As Riley tried to put his costume on, a funnel web spider bit him on the finger. 

"It hurt and it felt very sharp," he said. 

The brave little boy from Hill Top, north of Mittagong, showed his mum and dad the bite with hardly a tear, but Kayla and Stephen Schmidt's protective instinct immediately kicked into gear. 

Kayla wrapped Riley's hand in a compression bandage and called an ambulance, while Stephen captured the spider in a container.


"I did first aid training with the kid's soccer club and we learnt exactly what to do in case of a spider or snake bite," Mrs Schmidt said. 

"At the time we all thought 'what are we going to need this for' but it came in very handy," she said.

Stephen said the spider was "fired-up" when he caught it. 

"It was jumping around in the container and you could hear its fangs hitting the plastic," he said. 

When Riley got to Bowral and District Hospital, nurses and doctors were very impressed with how calm Kayla, Stephen and Riley were, and how well first aid measures had been applied. 

Bowral and District Hospital's Dr Matthew Bragg said Kayla's tourniquet technique was fantastic. 

"She did a really great job putting on the pressure immobilising bandaging and calmed him down," he said. 

"He had no sign of any envenoming when he arrived and I think that was because she had done such a great job of applying first aid."

After doctors saw the spider Stephen had brought in, they administered Riley with anti-venom before he was transferred to Randwick Children's Hospital. 

"My hand got really fat," Riley said. 

"It started with his fingers and then the rest of his hand started to swell as well," Mrs Schmidt said. 

"But the anti-venom worked really quickly and we started to see him improve 10 or so minutes after he had it."

Mr Schmidt said the spider was taken to Taronga Zoo after the incident. 

"Part of the reason we brought the spider in was because we had heard there was a shortage of anti-venom," he said.

Funnel web spiders are milked for the venom at a reptile park in Gosford, the venom is then transported to Melbourne so the anti-venom can be created. 

The spiders are more likely to attack in summer, as they like hot, moist weather. 

Dr Bragg said the best thing to do when first bitten was to remain calm. 

"If you've been bitten by a big black spider pressure immobilisation bandaging is key,' he said. 

"Don't run around, keep the area still and call an ambulance; that's the best course of action and that was proven in Riley's case."

While Riley won't be putting his Harry Potter costume on again in future, he's now decided he'd like to be a very particular superhero - Spiderman.