Caring for burns at the fireground

Burn injury is one of the more common injuries that may be found on the fireground. Fortunately, most burns are minor. Only about 50,000 of 700,000 patients who seek emergency help are admitted to the hospital for further care. This FireRescue1 article discusses what to do for burn victims on scene.

Start with the ABCs: airway, breathing, and circulation. Remember, victims with burns may have inhalation injury, including swelling, caused by super-heated gases that damage both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Look for singed nasal and scalp hair, burns to the face, and soot in the mouth. Ask the patient about their ability to speak and if they note any hoarseness or change in their voice.

AirwayUpper airway injuries in the field can be problematic. Intubation will be difficult and dangerous if the patient is awake. It could be fatal if you paralyze the patient and then are not able to secure their airway. It may be best to provide high-flow humidified oxygen and rapidly transport the patient to an appropriate facility. While increased swelling of the airway is still a risk, the choice to intubate is made easier if the patient is unconscious. Make sure to have the most experienced provider perform the intubation, using a tube that is one-half to one size smaller than normal.

Read the full article here.