Towards a Standard Model of Pre-hospital Burn First Aid – one step forwards, two steps back.

Mr Nicholas Goodwin1

1Ambulance Victoria, Doncaster, Australia


At ANZBA 2011, the author presented material on the use of hydrogel burns dressings in pre-hospital care  also exploring trends in burn first aid via a sample of recommendations from peak bodies, EMS, First Aid organisations and other parties. Considerable variation was evident and this has previously been reported .

A 2018 evaluation of a similar subset of current practice recommendations shows much work remains to reach consensus in all sectors involved in pre-hospital burn care on common parameters for burn first aid – i.e. – a “standard model”.

Crucially, lack of consensus amongst both recommending authorities and pre-hospital responder organisations continues to undermine efforts to educate the lay public in burn first aid now further distracted by the internet and social media commentariat, a particularly advantageous environment for commercial product marketing and the promotion of “alternative” therapies .

The author suggests adoption of an international standard model of burn first aid within a seamless continuum of care that begins at the “000” emergency call taker desk and merges lay interventions with EMS care to facilitate consistent and beneficial clinical management of the patient from incident right through to the ED door.

This creates an easily “saleable” message in public education, promotes confidence in lay practice and informs specific role playing for each responder within the care chain.

Such an approach also provides a vehicle for further research through retrospective analysis of the standard model of care via an easily accessible cohort of patients and pre-hospital responders respectively all receiving and delivering equivalent practices. Clarity derived from such analysis enhances prospects for improving the clinical benefit of the pre-hospital element of burn care via nuance or modification of parameters.


Paramedic with Ambulance Victoria for 28 years, 17 years as an intensive care paramedic (MICA). Published first systematic review on the use of hydrogel burns dressings in pre-hospital burn first aid 2015/16. Oral presentation of findings at 2011 ANZBA conference. Contributed to development of 1st aid and hydrogel documents for the British Burn Association 2018. Also supplied information and material input for the Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care Royal College of Trauma Surgeons document, “Management of Burns in Pre – Hospital Trauma Care” 2018.


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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