Burns course teaches critical skills for treating severe burns


9 April 2013

The Australian and New Zealand Burns Association (ANZBA) offers a highly regarded course for health professionals that teaches critical skills for the early treatment of severe burns.  Richard Wong She, who helps write and teach the course, filled us in on the difficulty of burns, and the recent course held in Taranaki.

Practice makes perfect, but for frontline health professionals faced with treating a severe burn victim, it’s possible they won’t have had any.  Severe burn cases in New Zealand typically only occur approximately 200 times a year, which makes the chances of treating them low for a vast majority of the health workforce.

Richard Wong She is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and the Clinical Leader for Burns at Middlemore Hospital, and is a key contributor to the Emergency Management of Severe Burns (EMSB) course.  Run by ANZBA, the course focuses on the first 24 hours of care, and is offered to health professionals across the board.

“Severe burns are so outside the parameters of what most health professionals deal with on a day-to-day basis that they are actually quite frightening,” Richard says, “but primary health care providers are the ones who can make the biggest difference, so it is critical we overcome that fear with training, and give them confidence as well as competence.”

“Good initial care and assessment of a burn victim are the most important factors in the overall outcome of severe burns.  Without that, all other efforts are for nothing, so the course teaches those vital skills” says Richard.

The one-day course can take up to 24 participants, and begins with a series of lectures, followed by small group discussions, and working through practical scenarios.  These sessions are led by ANZBA faculty members who are burn professionals from across the multiple disciplines and from multiple centres, and who have also been participants in the course.  There are typically 12 members of faculty, who help guide the participants through the course.

Most recently, two EMSB courses were held in Taranaki, with attendees from Primary Health, Rural Nurses, Oil and Gas Paramedics, St John, Hospital Emergency and Nursing staff, Fire personnel and Trauma Nurse Coordinators from Tauranga and Waikato. 
“The course is of most benefit in rural or remote areas, where they don’t have specialised burns units.  Taranaki is an area which not only has no burns unit and a number of rural areas, but there is also a lot of industry in the region with a high risk of burns,” Richard says.

“One of the women who attended, a nurse, is the sole medical practitioner in the middle of nowhere.  The population she serves will benefit greatly from her knowledge.  We want to continue to reach people in those types of areas.”

Taranaki DHB Trauma Nurse Coordinator Grant Looker and Hawera Medical Officer Sarah Burling attended the course, and say the feedback from staff who attended the course has been overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic.

“The course was well structured with experienced and approachable faculty and I definitely feel more confident about assessing and treating severe burns,” says Sarah.

“Anything that can give the tools to health professionals helps the outcome, and that’s what we’ll keep striving to achieve with the EMSB,” Richard says.

For more information about the course visit ANZBA’s website.

ANZBA faculty members Dr Sally Langley, Plastic Surgeon, Christchurch (centre)and Lynne Walker, ex Plastic Surgery Ward Charge Nurse, Waikato Hospital (left) with participants during a session of the EMSB course held in Taranaki.



Last updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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