Hero pest controller Gary Wilkinson’s swift actions may have saved the life a school caretaker after he accidentally disturbed a wasp nest.
The staff member, who asked not to be named, was clearing up rubbish at a primary school in Peterborough, Cambs when he hit a wasp nest and came under attack. Gary, who works with pest control company www.pestprofessionals.co.uk was on site within 20 minutes, and could immediately see that he was going into anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction to wasp stings that can easily kill.
“His face and neck was swelling and he was struggling to breathe. He was well into the process of going into full into anaphylactic shock. At Pest Professionals all our operatives are sent on specific courses for wasps, so I was fully aware what was going on and reacted accordingly.”
Gary sat the caretaker down to keep him calm and rushed into the foyer of the school demanding that someone call an ambulance immediately.
“At first they looked as if they thought a madman had run in off the street. But I had to make it very clear, very quickly that one of their staff was in grave danger of losing his life if medics didn’t get to him straight away.”
A unit from Peterborough hospital was despatched and was on scene within ten minutes. Three medics were able to bring the situation under control and John is now back to work as normal.
“I was also able to deal with the wasp nest okay,” said Gary. “They are at their biggest at this time of year and can be particularly aggressive if disturbed. As pest controllers we always wear a bee suit when treating wasps’ nests and even then we get stung from time to time. In fact I got stung 16 times last year.”
The caretaker, who had no idea he was allergic to wasp stings as he’d never been stung by one before, said: “I owe Gary my life. I will never be able to thank him enough.”
Added Gary, who is fully qualified to RSPH Level II level in pest control: “Wasps are fascinating insects that become more and more of an issue as the summer progresses. In late spring it will be mainly queens that you see as they begin the process of building the colony. Come late summer and the queen has stopped producing new workers.
“Throughout the summer the workers feed the grubs insects and the grubs in the nest secrete a sugary substance that feeds the workers, so the community is symbiotic. As soon as the queen stops laying new eggs, there are no more grubs and the workers have to turn to other food sources. That’s when we come into contact with them more, when they come to our ice creams, wine and beer.”
Gary is no stranger to the limelight, having hit the headlines when he stumbled across a giant wasp nest in an attic in Northamptonshire. The story was carried all over the world including on BBC, ITV and even Fox News in the USA.
Packing More Punch Than A Kobra
The type of wasp involved in this incident was the Vespula Germanica. Pound for pound, its sting is said to pack even more venom than that administered by a Kobra. Luckily for us, each sting carries only a tiny amount. However, if you suffer from an allergic reaction and go into shock, one sting can be enough to kill.
Wasps do not die after stinging because their stingers are not barbed and are not pulled out of their bodies. And one wasp can sting you multiple times.
Signs of Anaphylactic Shock
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, light-headedness, and low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours.