Nearly 10,000 people in America die each year from burn injuries, primarily infections. Most victims of fires, though, die from smoke inhalation or toxic gases. Burn simulation treatment needs to address both these risks, and quickly. Getting immediate care for burns can be lifesaving.
Burns have several causes: fire, hot water, sunlight, electricity, and chemicals. Thermal burns are the most common type of burns, and they are caused by heat, whether scalding liquids, fire, or contact with a hot surface.
Chemical burns, while rare, can be more serious than thermal burns, and need immediate attention. Many chemicals won’t stop damaging the skin until a neutralizing agent is applied. The type of chemical needs to be known so that it can be effectively treated.
Electrical burns may not be visible on the surface of the skin; most of the damage from electric burns will be internal. Electrical burns can also cause heart problems such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation, or problems breathing because the lungs may be paralyzed.
Burns need to be quickly assessed in order for the right treatment to be applied.
First degree burns are the most superficial of burns. A first-degree burn damages only the outer layer of skin, and usually results in pain and redness.
Second-degree burns damage the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the layer underneath (dermis). They result in pain, swelling, and blisters.
Third-degree burns penetrate below the dermis and do the most damage. Skin can appear either completely white or charred black. Pain may be less only because the nerves have been damaged, and the skin is numb.
When smoke or toxic gases are involved, the patient’s airway also needs to be assessed. The flowchart below will instruct on burn simulation steps to create a scenario.
It’s National Burn Awareness Week. For more information about preventing, assessing, and treating burns, visit the American Burn Association site.
Sources:CDC Injury Prevention fact sheet, Mass Trauma, Burns
Burn Injuries Require Quick Identification, Treatment & Transport, JEMS
MedlinePlus, Health Topics, Burns
Thermal Burns and Smoke Inhalation: A Simulation Session, Parsons, M. et al.