Appropriate First Aid in Chemical Burn Injury

Dr Daniel Calandro1, Dr Suzanne Rea1, Prof. Fiona Wood1

1State Burns Service, Western Australia, Murdoch, Australia


Burn injuries are common and debilitating, but can be appropriately managed, with timely and adequate first-aid dramatically improving burn outcomes. This study assessed first-aid performance in chemical burns, which has an increased risk in Western Australia (WA) due to its large industrial sector.

51 Adult patients presenting to the State Burns Service of WA with exclusively chemical burns between April and December 2016, were assessed for appropriate burns first-aid care with respect to stop, cool, and cover methods and timing.

Key Demographics: 78% of burns occurred in men. 61% affected trades-persons and related workers. 51% of burns occurred at work vs. 31% at home. 51% of burns were to the upper limb and hand; TBSA for all burns was 1.2%. PPE worn in 26% of burns, with 71% of that worn in the workplace.

Key First-Aid: Stop first-aid data was available in 80% of patients, with 34% receiving appropriate methods. Cooling first-aid data was the best documented area, available in 98% of patients, with 33% receiving adequate cool running water for >20 minutes <3hrs from injury. Appropriate dressings were used in 22% of burns. Patients who received adequate cooling first-aid required less inpatient care, shorter hospital stays, and fewer surgeries.

Conclusions: This was the first study evaluating exclusively chemical burn first-aid in WA, identifying patterns of chemical burn injury, with trades-persons at highest risk, and found that practices under-performed when compared to local and national mixed-type burn studies; supporting the need for strategies to improve first-aid performance and outcomes.


Daniel grew up in country Victoria. His academic journey began with a triple major bachelor of science from the University of Melbourne in anatomy, physiology, and neuroscience; before a doctor of Medicine, and Master of Philosophy in Medicine, from the University of Sydney and University of Notre Dame. He works as a medical officer and medical research scientist; and currently aspires to complete surgical training in Australia


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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