Participants feel the heat at burn life support course

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

***image1***Though most patients arriving with burn wounds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center have already been stabilized, a course for first-responders is necessary to ensure readiness for deployed servicemembers.

The Advanced Burn Life Support Provider Course was offered Feb. 1 to LRMC personnel and visiting interns to educate and prepare medical personnel for emergency action. Non-military people also participated in the course, which examined burns caused by bomb blasts as well as situations involving national or international emergencies such as terror attacks or industrial explosions.
Smoke inhalation, chemical fire injuries, electrical burns and shock tendencies were some of the material covered. Wound management and the transport of victims also were looked at during the one-day class.

“People inside Humvee and Bradley vehicles can be victims – people working in closed spaces,” said Dr. Richard Wigle, organizer of the course. “Burns have been an issue in every war and we’re seeing it continuously in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Throughout recorded history, Dr. Wigle said, burn injuries have constituted 15 percent of wartime casualties. The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen more, with a 30 percent casualty rate in that category, according to Dr. Wigle.

***image3***Having worked in Kosovo, Bosnia, Guatemala, Iraq and other military sites, Dr. Wigle’s class used a panel of medical burn experts teaching in 30-minute intervals and the course used mocked-up moulage patients as students explored wound management, chemical injuries, electrical injuries and other topics. Moulage involves using blood-colored paints and simulated burn conditions.

When you talk to former patients from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, they typically say they don’t remember their initial treatment,” said 2nd Lt. Joanna Krause, a fourth-year medical student rotating through Dexheim and other MEDCOM clinics. “That initial treatment was what we learned about in this course. Most of the people we see here or at other clinics are already stabilized. But it’s good training for first-response situations.”

For thousands of people who were in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, during the largest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, assisting in the triage of wounded citizens was a necessary order for the day.

***image4***“Military support for civilian authorities is one of several tenets in a multi-tiered plan for response to disasters and a new emphasis has been placed on preparing servicemembers to be successful first-responders.

Ensign Obi Ugochukwu of the U.S. Navy is also a medical student enrolled in the class. He was joined in the group by German and Italian nationals, several servicemembers working at LRMC and other medical military personnel from MEDCOM sites.

“The class here at Landstuhl familiarizes us with initial assessment, treatment and continued care of burn victims,” Ensign Ugochukwu said. “I’ve worked in intensive care units and this class has given me a reference point on initial treatment of burn patients.”

Typically, after stabilization, the continued aftercare known as “Echelon 5” care begins and is sustained at BAMC in San Antonio.

“The goal of this class is to get people comfortable dealing with something that they weren’t previously accustomed to dealing with,” Dr. Wigle said. “Typically, we are the second stage of care here at Landstuhl. We are aiming this course at people who might be deployed. It’s a course that anyone could benefit from, though.”