St John Ambulance burns campaign: caution urged with winter upon us


First aid is crucial in the moments after a burn.
First aid is crucial in the moments after a burn.

ST JOHN Ambulance is warning Western Australians to take care during what is a busy season for burns suffered around the house.

Last winter paramedics rushed more than 50 people to hospital for treatment to full thickness burns – what used to be referred to as third-degree burns.

Almost 20 of those cases involved young children.

St John Metropolitan Ambulance General Manager James Sheriff said the impact of full thickness burns can be especially traumatic.

“Full thickness burns can require prolonged hospital treatment and lengthy rehabilitation, with scarring that can last a lifetime,” Mr Sherriff said.

“Sadly, children are most susceptible due to their small size, as well as being less risk-aware so they might touch a wood-fire or tip a scalding drink.

“Touching candle flames and melted wax can also cause painful injuries.”

Mr Sheriff said first aid is critical in the moments after a burn.

“No matter the size or severity of the burns injury, immediately place the affected area under cool running water for 20 minutes,” he said.

“If the burns are extensive, you could place the patient under a shower.

“It’s important to keep the burn under the running water for 20 minutes and if possible, remove any clothing or coverings from the wound. Don’t place ice or frozen packs on the affected area and don’t apply medical creams or bandages.”

Winter is also peak period for severe respiratory illness, putting increased demands on ambulance services.

“Last winter, paramedics attended 2581 patients with respiratory illnesses compared to 1733 in autumn, so you can see it increases very quickly,” Mr Sheriff said.

“We would never discourage people from calling 000 if they’re struggling to breathe but we recommend people try to see their GP before their flu-like symptoms deteriorate.”