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Burns First Aid


  1. What medical interventions are fire crews trained/able to deliver to a burns casualty at the scene in absence of ambulance service support?
  2. What is your current practice for thermal burns first aid in terms of irrigant/coolant applied, the advocated temperature of coolant and expected duration of cooling?  In particular, we are seeking to identify how many services employ hydrogel products (eg Water Jel) for burns in either a cooling or dressing capacity within those guidelines.


  1. Crews are qualified to deliver basic First Aid interventions as detailed below, along with airway management including fitting of an OP airway (oropharyngeal airway), administration of O2 therapy (oxygen therapy according to Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) guidelines) and CPR use (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) including defibrillator if required.

  2. Current practice is to cool with cold running water for 20 minutes, ideally with clean water which is likely with the access to hydrants and drinking water on appliances. Appliance water supply may be used as an alternative, as long as it isn’t heated. No guidance taught for exact temperature as we cannot measure water temperature on scene but we will follow regulations that apply to tap water, being within certain parameters.

    We do carry gel dressing of the water based variety by WaterJel. These are carried in a range of sizes from 4 x 4” to blanket size but are taught to be applied after the cooling process detailed above or when that isn’t possible due to transportation to hospital without access to water. These are under review due to the practice to water cool first.

    All actions are required to be handed over to the oncoming medic to ensure that the cooling process is either continued, on arrival at the burns department, or so they are aware it has been completed. As well as information regarding the nature and cause of burns/mechanisms of injury so an indication of further trauma masked by the burns can be understood.

    We do not currently carry cling film, as the Gel soaks are used in a dressing capacity if required prior to the arrival of medical assistance.

    Our procedures and teachings in relation to burns come directly from the training and relationship with the Midlands Burn Network and the conferences they run yearly.