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In Mountain View, CA, a year of fund-raising led recently to the moment where a check was presented to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF), during the annual Peninsula Firefighters Burn Relay.

“This is a major support for us, besides the work of the volunteers and their coming to the Champ Camp,” said Sarah Burton, director of programs for the foundation. Champ Camp is one of many residential burn camps nationwide that help kids ages five to 16 who have suffered severe burns. “It goes beyond the monetary donation,” she added. “The support of the Mountain View Fire Department through money and time has been phenomenal.”

Members of MVFD’s Engine 2 and the MV Fire Associates gathered on August 18 to present checks totaling $13,600 to the AARBF. According to a department spokesperson, the funds are raised from the annual MVFD pancake breakfast and through individual donations.

The AARBF provides support to survivors of second degree and third degree burns, as well as their loved ones. The group started after 8-year-old Alisa Ann Ruch died in an accidental fire during a barbecue, 30 years ago. Her parents, local firefighters and medical professionals created AARBF shortly thereafter to prevent severe burn injuries by teaching Stop, Drop and Roll.

All these years later, the program has several events, such as a young adult summit, support services, and Champ Camp.

To support these efforts, each year the MVFD hosts its annual pancake breakfast where they teach fire prevention and also raise money for the foundation. Two of the volunteers with MV Fire Assocates help coordinate on-site rehabilitation services for firefighters who suffered severe burns or smoke inhalation in cases of fires that have at least two alarms. They came with a check for the burn foundation too.

“As part of the fire community, it’s our way to show appreciation to the fire departments in the county,” said one volunteer. “This is our way to pay back, and also through volunteerism too.”

If you or someone you know suffers a burn injury, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, NY so that they can determine whether another party is legally liable for your injuries and if you have a case.

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The two most important problems encountered clinically with burned patients are infection and dehydration. When a person is burned and depending on the severity of burn, the blood vessels including the capillaries may be affected. Combined with the release of chemical substances into the blood, this will lead to increased capillary permeability to fluids, leading to the leaking of fluids from the blood vessels into the tissues. The higher the percentage of burned skin, the more severe the loss of fluid will be and the greater the dehydration will be.

In a third degree burn the entire thickness of skin (epidermis and dermis) is involved and nerve endings have been destroyed. The body’s barrier against water loss is no longer there. When the protective covering does not exist, fluid seeps from the burned area causing dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Unless fluids are replaced immediately, renal shut down and hypovolemic shock will occur. Skin is both a physical barrier, preventing water loss, and also a chemical barrier, preventing the growth of bacteria.

Fluid replacement is one of the important objectives in the initial treatment of burned patients. The amount of fluid needed and the method of fluid given depends on the surface area of the skin burned as well as other factors. There are many formulas used to calculate the amount of fluid needed for resuscitation; one of them is called the Parklund Formula in which after the amount of fluids is calculated, it is given through an IV route and the type of fluid is usually Ringer Lactate because it’s composition is simillar to the extracellular fluid.

Dehydration can be a life threatening complication that may even lead to death. Urine output (0.5 ml/kg/hour in adult and 1 ml/kg/hour in children) is one of the methods used to evaluate adequate fluid resuscitation. Over resuscitation may lead to compartment syndrome. Patients with minor burns can be resuscitated with oral rehydration therapy. You have to make sure that you are taking enough fluids, not vomiting and is producing a satisfactory amount of urine.

Edema (accumulation of fluid in bodily tissue or body cavity) may become worse after fluid resuscitation and if this edema is in a compartment (closed space of nerves, muscle tissue and blood vessels) covered by dead tissue as a result of the burn which is inelastic and can’t expand, this edema may lead to compression of the blood vessels in the compartment leading to compression of circulation in which escharotomy may be needed to release that pressure. It is advisable to watch the burned areas, especially in the extremities, for signs of decrease blood flow to the affected area.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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Over the past month, there have been so many stories about people who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. But here is a story that appeared in the New York Daily News recently that is an excellent example of a survivor who is getting on with his life, and all burn victims can learn from him as they fight to get through their physical and psychological injuries.

Tax lawyer Harry Waizer was ready to get to work when he took the elevator up to his World Trade Center office just before 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Harry was 50 years old at the time, and the father of three children. If he had been just two minutes later to work that day, he would have been able to go home that night and tell his family how he escaped. Instead, he became a victim of severe burns that affect him 10 years later, and which will affect him his whole life.

Harry managed to get out of the building a few minutes after the first plane struck his building, but he was severely injured by fire across his entire body. When the plane hit the top of the building, the elevator he was riding in suddenly went into a freefall and burst into flames–not once, but twice.

Harry suffered severe burns over most of his body and face, including lung burns. He would spend the next seven weeks in a coma. Still, Harry was one of the very few people in his entire office to survive.

“I was seconds away from joining my friends on the 104th floor and those seconds were the difference between my survival and my death,” says Harry, who is now 60. “I feel lucky.”

Harry and a woman were going up towards the tower’s 104th floor when the elevator started to shake. Then, without warning, it plummeted and erupted in flames. “Everything seemed to be in slow motion,” Harry says. “There were flames on the floor, carpeting, on the walls.” He said he frantically stamped out the fire with his canvas briefcase.

The elevator stopped short, but then started gliding down toward the elevator bank on the 78th floor. For a moment, Harry thought it would be all right. But a few floors above him, a fire swept down and engulfed the elevator once again. “A fireball came in the gap of the door and this one caught me square in the face,” he says.

The fire disappeared quickly and then the elevator doors opened to the 78th floor. Harry and the woman joined the flood of shell-shocked workers marching down the emergency stairs. “At such a moment, you’re not thinking deep thoughts. You are reacting,” he says. “What went through my head is, ‘I have to get down and find help.’ That’s all I thought about it. I had no thought about how injured I might be.”

About 25 floors down, an emergency worker spotted the badly burned man and cleared the path down for him. He was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit and placed in a medically induced coma for eight weeks.

Harry awoke to the news that he had suffered third-degree burns across his face, arms, hands and legs. Then he learned that terrorists had slammed a plane into the tower. And then, while lying in his hospital bed with his wife standing over him, he got the worst news of all: Most of his coworkers were dead.

Harry underwent intensive rehabilitation for months, and actually returned to his company in March 2004. But he only works about three days a week, and has constant back pain plus nerve damage that reduces the strength in his left hand. Still, Harry counts himself fortunate. “I recognize how close I was,” he says.

Going back to work for his company was one way that Harry could feel that he had overcome the difficult circumstances that life put in front of him. And although he will have pain for the rest of his life, Harry knows he has the support of his coworkers, in addition to the love and support of his family.

If you or someone you know suffers a burn injury, please call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, NY so that they can determine whether another party is legally liable for your injuries and if you have a case.

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A lawsuit has been filed by the parents of a Texas teenager who suffered severe burns that were allegedly caused by a defective gas container.

The lawsuit was filed by Kenneth and Pam Crouch on behalf of their daughter, Brooke Crouch, on July 29 in the Eastern District of Texas, against Blitz U.S.A. Inc.

According to the complaint, a friend of Brooke attempted to reignite a campfire by pouring gasoline on it from a Blitz gas can. When the vapors outside the can ignited, it caused the can to explode, causing Brooke to suffer third-degree burns.

Burning gasoline sprayed out of the exploding can, dousing the girl on her legs and hands and under her skirt, causing severe burns in several areas. Brooke had to undergo surgeries, physical therapy, and even skin grafts to heal from her injuries.

The family alleges that the gas can explosion and the girl’s injuries could have been prevented if the product had been sold with a flamer arrestor or other safety device. The lawsuit accuses the company of manufacturing and marketing a defective gas can, strict liability, failing to adequately warn consumers of the possible risks and negligence.

Gas can flame arrestors are an inexpensive safety feature, usually costing under 50 cents. They have small holes within the gas spout, which prevents flames from entering the container. Arrestors are currently found on a number of different products, including certain bottles of rum.

If a similar incident has happened to you or someone you know, please contact Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, NY to see if someone else is liable for any injuries that were suffered.

Lastly, this story should be a warning to everyone to NEVER pour gasoline onto a fire, regardless of whether the container has a flame arrestor. It is simply too dangerous.

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Paramedics in the Buffalo suburb of Tonawanda, NY have a new tool to help them save victims of smoke inhalation.

In late August, the paramedics announced that their ambulances will now carry supplies of the drug Cyanokit, which works to help those suffering from smoke inhalation by counteracting the chemicals in toxic gases and smoke. Other ambulance units around the country will likely do the same thing over time.

Paramedics are calling it a life-saving treatment. “It’s to benefit the citizens of our town and the firefighters who put their lives on the line, should anyone be overcome by smoke and the toxic effects of cyanide that’s in smoke,” said one paramedic.

The drug has been used in France since 1996 and has recently been FDA approved.

Cyanokit (hydroxocobalamin) is a form of vitamin B-12. It is used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning. Cyanokit works by helping cells in the body convert cyanide to a form that can be removed from the body through urination.

Cyanokit is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein, most often in an emergency situation. The medicine must be given slowly through an IV infusion, and can take about 15 minutes to complete.

Cyanokit is usually given only once. However, you may receive a second dose if needed.
Cyanide poisoning can occur if a person is exposed to smoke from a house or industrial fire, if they swallow or breathe in cyanide, or if they get cyanide on the skin.

Cyanokit is usually given in an emergency, so you may not have time to tell your caregivers about any drugs you take or medical conditions you have. However, you will need follow-up medical care after receiving this medication. Tell your doctor if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or congestive heart failure.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

You may develop an acne-like skin rash from 1 week to as late as 4 weeks after you were treated with Cyanokit. This rash should go away without treatment. Call your doctor if you have a rash that does not clear up on its own.

This medication can cause you to have unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you have recently received a Cyanokit injection.

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On August 5 in a small Ohio town, a 64-year-old woman died after a fire started in her apartment within an 11-story senior apartment complex.

The woman lived in a seventh-floor apartment, where investigators believe the fire originated from a candle in the living room. Firefighter responded at 10:38 p.m. after the building’s fire alarm went off. When engines arrived, there was smoke visibly coming from the seventh floor. The fire was contained to the woman’s apartment and was knocked down quickly. Firefighters found the unconscious woman in the apartment and carried her down a ladder, witnesses said. “It’s very tragic. The guys are pretty broken up about it,” said the fire department’s chief.

An autopsy determined that the woman died of smoke inhalation. What’s more, numerous other residents of the senior complex were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, with a few taken to a hospital. The American Red Cross found shelter for up to 30 other seventh-floor residents displaced by the fire. But many stayed with relatives instead.

Some of the building’s residents from other floors exited when the alarm sounded, but many were told to simply go to their balconies. One seventh-floor resident said the hallway was filled with smoke when she evacuated. “We’ve had a lot of fires, but nothing this bad,” said the tenant, who has lived there five years.

One other resident said that other fires had occurred in the past after people fell asleep while cooking. Three people were treated for smoke inhalation following a kitchen fire on the fifth-floor of the building on May 16.

The local fire chief said the 232-unit building pre-dates sprinkler systems, but has a “state-of-the-art alarm system” that gives sound, visual and voice cues so that the hard of hearing and other handicapped residents can get adequate warning in an emergency. He said fire crews train at the building often, so they are prepared to deal with the challenges of working in a high rise and evacuating hundreds of elderly residents.

A similar story took place in Pennsylvania just days before this incident. There, a fire forced the evacuation of a nursing center and sent five residents to area hospitals with smoke inhalation.

The local fire marshal said firefighters were dispatched to the center at 1:30 a.m. When they arrived, they found smoke coming from one of the hallways, but the fire had already been extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system.

The staff at the facility quickly reacted and got all residents out of the building. It turns out that the fire occurred in a bedroom.

“The residents’ injuries were not life-threatening,” said the fire marshal. “The staff did a very good job of getting the residents out safely.”

Now, the difference between these two incidents should serve as a lesson to families who are looking to move older relatives into senior housing and nursing homes. In the first incident, some residents were told to move to their balconies rather than leave the building. But if those residents received severe burns or smoke inhalation while on the balcony, the facility operator might have incurred legal liability for burns or smoke-inhalation injuries. Also, while it may be legal for an older building to not have fire sprinklers, families might want to ask a lot of questions of the facility’s staff–and then think hard before placing a relative in such a facility.

On the other hand, the actions of the staff in the second incident meant that these employees knew what they were doing, and were able to get all residents out of the building quickly. This facility had a system in place that surely brings peace of mind to the residents, and to their relatives too.

In short, families must investigate in detail what fire-alarm systems and fire-suppression systems are in place at a facility, and also understand the evacuation procedures that are used there. Families should also review the fire history at the facility, to see if residents are careless with candles, or cooking materials, or other items that can start fires.

These types of information could be a matter of life and death for a loved one who needs some attention and assistance from caregivers each day.

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Here’s a story that provides more than one lesson in why you need to protect yourself with the best sunblock to avoid severe burns as you enjoy the late-summer sun.

In Texas, a man was hospitalized with second-degree burns when he fell asleep while outside in the sun without his shirt on. Police say it is likely that the man was intoxicated by alcohol or another substance, which is why the pain from his sunburn did not wake him up. And when he did finally wake up, his pain was so severe that he jumped into the lake next to the pier he was sunbathing on–and then had to be rescued!

Police officers were initially called by someone who saw the burning man on the pier, but by the time police arrived the man had jumped into the water. The police notified the local EMS/ambulance service, and that team successfully pulled the victim from the water. But they immediately noticed the severity of the victim’s burns, which included blisters all over his body from the 100-degree heat.

“Sunburn doesn’t normally rise to this magnitude because people tend to remove themselves from that environment before such burns happen,” said an EMS spokesperson. In fact, he described the severity of the burns to what paramedics normally see during house fires and car fires.

But “it was clear that something else was going on with the victim. His sunburn was the clear consequence of other behavior.”

So before you skip using the sunblock because we are now in September and the sun does not seem as strong as it was a few weeks ago, take this advice: Use sunblock anyway! The sun is still strong enough to burn your skin.

Lastly, do not drink alcohol or take controlled substances and then go into the sun. Taking intoxicating substances not only makes you less aware of how much sunburn you are getting, but it also could cause you to pass out while in the sun. And you surely don’t want to end up with severe burns like the man in the story above, do you?

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In Nashua, NH in mid-August, a 48-year-old man was transported to a hospital following an unusual incident. It seems that a fire broke out not in his apartment, but rather just outside the entryway to his apartment, around 11 p.m. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had been partially extinguished by residents. Furthermore, the fire was extinguished even before it could spread beyond the entryway.

Nonetheless, the man was trapped in his apartment because there was only one door that led outside, and the fire in that doorway caused smoke to fill his apartment, resulting in the man suffering poisonous smoke inhalation.

In any situation where there is only one door out of a building, windows should be considered as alternate fire escape routes, and rope ladders or some other means of getting out that window and onto the ground should be stored within reach of that window. Also, all occupants of a dwelling–including children–should know about these alternate escape routes and how to use the nearby items to get out of windows safely in case the doors are blocked by fire or smoke.

Now, if that first story was not enough to push you to plan more than one fire escape route from your home and your office, then consider this story: In Northern Virginia this week, a resident at an apartment complex had to climb onto the roof to escape flames–which is as dangerous as being inside the building!

Firefighters received multiple alarms starting at 6:21 p.m., arrived on the scene, and got the fire under control by 6:38 p.m. But when they first arrived, firefighters found smoke streaming from second-floor windows, and that a man had climbed onto the roof because he could not get out his front door in time. This is a dangerous act, because heat and smoke rise–the man might soon have been trapped on the roof in unbearable heat and smoke, and unable to escape injury or death. Luckily, the man was finally able to get down once firefighters knocked down the flames and then conducted a search of the second floor.

The fire started on the stove in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment and then extended into the cabinets. The cause was found to be a pan of grease left unattended on the stove. Investigators also found the smoke alarm in the apartment had no batteries and was not functioning. Also, fire extinguishers there were out of date, exit lights were burned out, and electrical panel boxes were blocked. These are all serious fire hazards–and they expose the apartment complex’s management company to legal liability if someone is injured in a fire.

The fire damage was confined to that one apartment, while another sustained smoke damage. The estimate for the damage is $15,000. The American Red Cross was assisting the families who had damage.

Please consider these incidents as you prepare your fire escape plans for your home and your place of work. Remember: A door may not be a possible escape route in case of fire, and you must be ready to get out another way to avoid severe burns or smoke inhalation that can kill you.

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A case is making its way through the Iowa civil courts this month that involves the potential legal liability of a day-care center where a toddler suffered severe burns.

The parents and grandmother of the severely burned toddler have sued the owners of an Ankeny, IA child-care center, accusing the couple of “willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety” of a boy whose diaper was changed within reach of a crock pot filled with very hot water.

Polk County court papers filed earlier this week accuse Bryan and Sue Jansen, owners of a company doing business as Ankeny Christian Child Care, of negligence for leaving the container within reach of where Seth Brown was having his diaper changed on Aug. 20, 2009.

The lawsuit says that Seth, while in the care of the Jansens’ employees, “pulled a Crock Pot with scalding hot water over and on top of himself, causing severe burn injuries over 25 percent of his body.” Court papers also say that Ankeny Christian Child Care violated several state rules and procedures in 2009, including steps that should have been taken to limit the crock pot’s temperature and also to keep the cord out of reach of the children staying there.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Seth, his grandmother, and his parents Amanda and Aleksander Brown, seeks money for past and future medical and hospital expenses, past and future pain and suffering, loss of future earning capability and past and future permanent injury, disability and disfigurement.

Owner Bryan Jansen said Friday that his insurance company had just received a copy of the lawsuit, so he had no comment at this point.

A website for Ankeny Christian Child Care says the daycare center, which shares an address with Ankeny Christian Church, has been in business since 1997 and owned by the Jansens’ company since 1999. The business has been actively involved in the community for many years, according to the website. Additionally, it says that “most of our staff are active in their churches, whether they attend in Ankeny or in another area church.”

In order to prevent such an incident from happening rather than having to respond to it with medical treatment and a lawsuit, parents should take a detailed tour of any child-care facility where they are considering placing their child. Hazards to look for include unguarded electrical sockets in addition to possible sources of burn injuries such as hot-water faucets and electrical appliances that are not well protected from the wandering hands of small children.

In another incident involving a burn injury at a business, top professional tennis player Rafael Nadal received serious burns to some of his fingers while out to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse on August 19. The restaurant Nadal went to is one where skilled chefs cook dinner on a steel grill in front of seated patrons. There were a number of plates placed in front of Nadal, but one of them had been recently moved from the surface of the hot grill surface. Nadal did not know this, and when he reached out to grab the dish he burned his fingers immediately.

When Rafal told his companions he burned his fingers, they thought he was joking–until blisters started forming a few minutes later, which is a classic sign of second-degree burns. It turns out that Nadal had scalded the index and middle fingers on his right hand. He was forced to play tennis the next day with bandages on his hand, and he lost his match.

As anyone who has gone to this type of restaurant can attest, some of the surfaces being used by chefs are located within reach of patrons, and can get extremely hot and also make the plates and utensils nearby very hot as well. Because of this, patrons should pay close attention to the cooking activity and also to any children sitting at the table to keep them safe.

It is not known at this time if Nadal will begin a civil case against the restaurant regarding legal liability for his burn injuries.

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As a follow-up to my August 9 blog, I found a late-July article in The Los Angeles Times about 19-year-old Derek Thomas, a burn victim whose strong determination, positive attitude and faith have helped him to get out of the hospital and go home even though he was given just a 1 percent chance of survival when he suffered third-degree burns last year.

Nearly 300 people in Encinitas, CA welcomed home Derek, who was burned over 85 percent of his body in a car crash a year ago. The crowd of friends that gathered from the local high school, church and the YMCA where Derek once worked lined up along the driveway at Scripps Rehabilitation Services, where Derek is expected to continue physical therapy for several more weeks.

Upon his arrival from the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center the crowd began cheering, shaking pom-poms and waving signs that said, “We love you D-Rock!” and “I am not a body. I am a soul!”

Earlier, at the Grossman Burn Center, Derek met with some of his rescuers for the first time: the men who helped him right after the car wreck, the emergency room personnel, and the medical staff who flew him via emergency jet to Los Angeles.

During his 11-month stay at the burn center, Derek underwent 42 surgeries and had to have every inch of his burned skin scraped off. As he was leaving for good, much of the staff was in tears as they wished Derek farewell with a pot-luck dinner of homemade dishes, including some of Derek’s favorites.

At about 10 a.m. the next day, Derek sat in a chair flashing a victorious smile during a news conference. He rose briefly to speak to a room full of reporters. What he said that day should serve as an inspiration for anyone who is severely burned, or who suffers some other physical or emotional trauma and hardship in life:

“There are times when you’re going to be down and you’re going to think that there’s nothing in you that can keep on going, But if you have faith and you believe you’re not alone, then you’ll come out on top.”