Inside Burn Unit With Tulsa Firefighters Injured In School Explosion

Thursday, September 20th 2012, 6:52 pm
By: News On 6

News On 6 got a rare look inside Tulsa's burn unit, as we followed several firefighters who were burned in a recent school fire.

The firefighters want to show the road to recovery, because they're all determined to return to work.

These firefighters want to show what it's like coping with severe burns and the great work being done at Hillcrest's Burn Center.

9/19/2012 Related Story: Three Firefighters Injured In Tulsa School Explosion Talk About Their Experience

Captain Terry Sivadon is hoping for good news at this appointment at Hillcrest Medical Center's burn unit.

Sivadon must clean his wounds and change the dressings twice a day.

"They might not look better, but I can tell they're getting better," Sivadon said.

He's had skin grafts on both hands and his ear.

All the Tulsa firefighters who needed grafts had the skin harvested from their thighs.

Doctor Robert Kirk is looking for a smooth surface on the burns, which indicates healing.

"I was going to ask you, sir, it kind of feels like I don't have any sensitivity in my fingers, all the way up to my fingertips," Tulsa firefighters Mike Rodriguez asked the doctor.

The skin grafts on Rodriguez are healing so well, he doesn't have to bandage up his hands or leg anymore.

Matt Bell's graft on his hand looks nice and the doctor is pleased.

"It definitely takes some time to recover from this kind of injury," Dr. Kirk said. "Even once the wound heals, the skin graft is staying alive. There's not much chance of infection anymore. The skin is not very tough, it's fragile."

Ryan Beeler has decided to get a skin graft on his ear, because it's not healing.

Ears are very difficult for skin grafts because of the shape and the cartilage.

"Cartilage, by itself doesn't, have a very good blood supply and it can't really support a skin graft," Dr. Kirk said.

Dr. Kirk said he may have to do another skin graft on Sivadon's ear.

"I'd rather it heal up like it is, but whatever the doctor thinks is best. I'm just ready to get healed up and get back to normal," Sivadon said.

Dr. Kirk said some of the firefighters are okay to go back to work soon, as long as they're doing light duty.

Hard, physical labor - like firefighting - isn't an option yet, but could be in several more weeks.