Burn Trauma Tips

On January 14, 2011, in First Aid, Medical, Preparedness, Training, by Sean Brownlee

Pebble Beach CERT and Pebble Beach Fire hosted a talk by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Burn Trauma Nurse Andria Hinckley, on March 24, 2010. We learned how first responders can help improve survival chances of burn victims.

  • Stop the burning process.
  • ABCs: Check Airway, Breathing, Circulation
  • Remove jewelry and burned clothing.
  • Keep the patient warm.
  • Examine the patient head to toe, front to back for trauma.
  • Ask family for the medical history of the person: physical condition. For toddlers, when was the last wet diaper? The patient may be unable to tell medical staff important details.
  • Keep the injured limb elevated.
  • Burn victims are IMMEDIATEs. Within 1 hour, throat tissue will likely swell, especially if there has been smoke inhalation. Medical personnel need to insert a breathing tube ASAP.

Burn victims seldom die from the burn; trauma and compromised airway are more frequent causes of death.

Burn Classifications:

Note: The center of the burn is the most severe and usually paler in color.

  • First Degree: Superficial – Heals within 3-5 days; blanches briskly (Think sunburn.)
  • Second Degree: Partial Thickness – (2 types) DO NOT POP BLISTERS –Blisters ? painful, pink to red, moist, 7-10 days healing –No Blisters mottled red/white, painful, dense scarring, brown leathery
  • Third Degree: Full Thickness – Complete destruction of skin; skin graft(s) needed; white/brown/black; charred/waxy/firm; needs IV fluids; the body swells. Roofing tar causes 3° burns. Flame burn is black. Hot water burn is waxy.
  • Fourth Degree:  Beyond recognition, mottled colors

To calculate percentage of burn area, use the “Rule of 9’s”: 9% each: Head/neck, Left arm, Right arm 1% genital area 18% each: Front torso, Back torso, Left leg, Right leg 1% Palm Rule Their palm size = 1% of body surface.


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