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Treating Burns In EMS

Usually, burns are caused by heat, but chemicals and electricity can also cause minor and severe burns. A burn is an injury to the skin; however, it can also damage muscles, tissues, and even bones in severe cases. Playing with fire or explosives like fireworks is always risky, especially for children. They have thinner skin, lose proportionately more fluid, are more prone to hypothermia, and mount a greater systemic inflammatory response. which can occur at lower temperatures and less time than the adult skin. EMS providers see different burns, and every type demands a different treatment.


The Degrees of Burns

If you have been in a fire accident or you are accompanying someone who has a burn, you may get to hear EMTs and paramedics talking about the degrees of a burn. There are three degrees; first, second, and third. These degrees are used to describe how thick and nasty a burn is. Moderate and minor burns are called first-degree burns, and it means the damage is minimal.

  • First-degree burns (superficial burns) are mild compared to other burns. They cause pain and reddening of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin).

  • Second-degree burns (partial thickness burns) affect the epidermis and the dermis (lower layer of skin). They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.

  • Third-degree burns (full-thickness burns) go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. They result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.

  • Fourth-degree burns go even deeper than third-degree burns and can affect your muscles and bones. Nerve endings are also damaged or destroyed, so there’s no feeling in the burned area.

The First Thing To Do: Of course, removing yourself or someone from the heat source is the first thing you should do to stop the burning. The first rule of treating a burn is to stop the burning to the depth of the burn. Don’t use ice or ice water as it may increase the damage. The use of cool water for 20 minutes to flush the wound is recommended. Don’t use any greasy substances such as butter; only cover it with a dry and sterile bandage that is nonstick.

For second and third degrees burn, call 911 and rush to the nearest hospital to get the wound checked. There are areas on our body, like around the eyes, ears, toes, fingers, and nose that are considered sensitive. Regardless of the size of a burn, if it has occurred in one of these areas, you should not waste any time reaching the nearest medical facility’s emergency department.



Assessing Burn Patient In EMS

The medical staff working in EMS will ask about the cause of the burn first thing. It is required to assess the mechanism of the injury. In many cases, when a patient is burned from outside, chances are there will be internal wounds, especially if there are burns to the face. If the area is swollen, it hints that the injury has caused internal damage.

When a person panics or becomes anxious, is fearful, additional hypoxia all results in rapid breathing. In turn, this causes inhalation of smoke with carbon monoxide and other gases that can be toxic. This can lead to a life-threatening situation by blocking the airway and creating breathing difficulties.


Some patients may need to be intubated if they have significant airway swelling from inhalation burns. This decision depends on the EMS protocols and assessment.

There are several other procedures that may be required, and only the trained staff in EMS can make the call. In the case of burns, it is vital to get examined by a professional. Time is tissue.

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