First Responders, Burn Units Prepare To Treat Injuries From Fireworks

Tuesday, July 3rd 2018, 10:32 pm
By: Ashley Izbicki

The Hillcrest Burn Unit and first responders are preparing for a busy couple of days as people set off fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July.

Children 10 to 14 have the highest rates of firework injuries, followed by young adults.

First responders say people just don’t follow safety guidelines or fireworks malfunction and the results are painful and life-changing.

“We probably run several calls every year of firework-related injuries, down to burns to traumatic injuries,” said Kim Richards from EMSA.

Some of the firework-related injuries they’ve responded to include a 19-year-old from Oklahoma City almost losing his leg and a Tulsa man who’s needed several surgeries after a firework exploded in his face.

There’s not much paramedics can do other than keep burn patients comfortable.

“If they need a burn unit, we take them to a facility that specializes in burns,” said Richards.

“They’re typically second and third degree burns that require operative excision of the burned skin and occasional grafting,” stated Dr. Tara Wilson from Utica Park Clinic.

Dr. Wilson says she just operated on a patient who suffered a firework injury Tuesday morning.

The most common concern, she says, “for the youngest kids, sparklers tend to be the issue because they don’t drop them and they get over 2,000 degrees.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that, in the month surrounding 4th of July last year, 1,200 patients were treated for injuries from sparklers, 300 from bottle rockets, and 800 from firecrackers.

The total number of firework-related injuries reached 8,700, up from 7,600 in 2016.

“A lot of time it was, ‘I didn’t know.  I thought it burned out,’” Richards said.

EMSA says enjoying the big shows like Tulsa’s Freedom Fest is the safest option.

Statistics show 70 percent of people hurt last year were males.

Experts recommend keeping people 50 feet away from the fireworks and to only light one at a time, even sparklers.