Several times a year the Leon S. Peters Burn Center leaders train with other hospitals on how to handle a disaster with multiple victims, so when word came that 14 people had been injured in a gas line explosion in Fresno staff began alerting surgeons, calling in more nurses and looking for extra beds in the hospital.
The 10-bed burn center is nearly always full and on April 17, when the PG&E line ruptured, it was also caring for Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern, burned over 70% of his body after falling through a fiery roof just weeks before.
Sandra Yovino, RN, clinical director of the burn center described how her team responded: “We received five of the most significantly burned right away the day of the explosion and two additional patients were transferred to us later that evening for a total of seven hospitalized with major burn injuries. We had two trauma surgeons and our burn surgeon on at the time. I sent our people down to emergency to help resuscitate and get fluids in right away.”
Yovino also connected with other hospitals in Fresno and Madera who were getting the kind of patients they don’t normally see. “The first four hours of burn management is crucial. And I knew eventually those patients would either be transferred to us or we’d see them for follow up for outpatient burn treatments.”
Eventually all 14 patients came to Community Regional Medical Center for burn care. The hospital operates the only comprehensive Level 1 trauma and burn centers between Los Angeles and Sacramento, providing a vital resource for the Valley’s critically injured.
Every year the burn center treats an average of 700 patients, admitting 200-300 severely burned patients for extensive stays, some from as far away as San Bernardino County. And since 2012 the center has treated nine fire fighters for either burns and/or smoke inhalation.
In addition to treating burn victims, the burn center which started in 1974 with the help of firefighters’ fundraising efforts, partners with local fire departments to educate the public on burn prevention and fire safety. Staff also regularly holds seminars for primary care physicians and urgent care centers about best practices in burn treatments and wound care.
Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach her at MedWatchToday.com