Fire Fighters Aid Burn Center
“Fire kills,” says America Burning, “but has its living victims too—burn victims. Few injuries as as traumatic as severe burns.” America Burning was published in April 1973 but long before the commission’s report was published, plans for a burn center were under way in the Delaware Valley Area. The initial start was made by St. Agnes Hospital in Philadelphia and later joined by the Chester-Crozier Medical Center located in Upland, Pa., about 20 miles to the south.
The two, not in competition, but together formed the “Burn Foundation of the Greater Delaware Valley,” the nation’s first consortium of burn treatment facilities. Joining with them was the shock and trauma network of the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in Philadelphia.
The foundation serves as the key to an emergency network to provide regional service programs, such as the 24-hour helicopter ambulance delivery, research and educational objectives, and the exchange of staff expertise in the advancement of burn care.
One nurse, one patient
Dr. Arthur H. Silvers, director of the Chester-Crozier Hospital, and Sister Anthony Consilia, administrator of St. Agnes Hospital, tell us that a fact of significant importance is that the burn centers will provide nursing care on a one-to-one patient ratio. According to Dr. Silvers, success takes dedicated nursing—focused, intelligent, aggressive nursing, with TLC (tender loving care) if the program is to succeed.
Facilities include hydrotheraphy departments equipped with full body tanks, extremity tanks and a movable scale for recording weight. Intensive comprehensive care units include Circoelectric beds and cribs for children. There is a skin graft room where skin may be kept in a bank for up to eight weeks. Grafting is performed within the unit. Each unit has kidney dialysis beds, which like all beds have an infrared heat shield for delicate temperature control, and an intensive comprehensive care area.
Both units have helicopter pads as a vital link in the smooth, fast transportation of patients to the burn centers.
The two hospitals are linked with the National Burn Center in Michigan for consultation, research and statistical analysis of incidence of burns and the care of the burn patient.
The Delaware Valley Center will work with fire departments and other hospitals, as well as teaching medical departments in industry, community and home programs about burn treatment, for it is a matter of record 76 percent of burns take place in a domestic-type environment.
Fire department involved
From the outset of the program, the then Fire Commissioner James McCarey of Philadelphia lent his support and sought the aid of all paid and volunteer fire departments in the Valley. When Fire Commissioner Joseph R. Rizzo assumed command of the PFD, he continued this support. Rizzo assigned Captain Charles B. Gindele and other officers to attend various company meetings, drills, banquets, schools etc., wherever firemen gathered, to solicit their support for the foundation.
The firemen rallied to the call— some from as far distant as the Alpha Fire Company in State College, 250 miles away. Ladies auxiliaries got in on the project. Recently the ladies auxiliary of the Independent Fire Company of Maple Shade, N.J., ran a dance with all proceeds going to the Burn Center. Chief Harry McCalla turned over a check for $1,100 to Commissioner Rizzo. WCAU Radio sponsored a celebrity golf tournament at the Bala Country Club, Philadelphia, that drew widespread patronage. The Delaware Valley fire buffs sold 800 tickets for this tournament.
The spokesmen for the PFD have visited 60 different departments located in 21 different counties in the greater Delaware Valley, as well as contacting 16 paid departments. To date, the PFD has turned over in excess of $150,000 to the Burn Center in the name of firemen. To show his gratitude for this assistance, Rizzo arranged for a “Firemen’s Appreciation Day” on the Delaware River waterfront on Sunday, June 2. Invitations were extended to 17 counties to send a representative pumper and ladder (or platform) as well as a canteen or coffee truck (if available).
The day of the show dawned with a light rain. The rain date was the following Sunday. A decision had to be made to “go” or cancel, as some units had to travel 80 miles to reach the location. A final conference was held with the United States Weather Department at 8 a.m. Report was: “Weather will improve . . .” The word was GO. Unfortunately, the only improvement was in the intensity of the rain. As activities got in progress with the Philadelphia Police Athletic League Band parading past the reviewing stand, the heavens opened in a veritable cloudburst, which sent many of the spectators scurrying for cover. Nonetheless, in the tradition of show business, when the word was given, “Men, start your water,” spectators were treated to one of the greatest concentrations of elevated streams seen in this area.
Special antique equipment on display included Merchantville, N.J.’s 1915 Model T chiefs car with chemical tanks; Ahrens-Foxes from Raritan No. 1 of Edison, N.J. (1923), Doylestown, Pa.’s 1927, and Pitman, N.J.’s 1936. Washington of Conshohocken, Pa., was pumping with a 1927 American LaFrance.
Woodbury, N.J., displayed a 1903 Waterous, and the Media, Pa., Fire Department brought along a 1927 Seagrave. Pleasant, N.J., sent a heavy-duty rescue unit, and Atlantic County, N.J., had a communications van on display.
Canteen units present included Salvation Army units from both Atlantic City, N.J., and Philadelphia, the Second Alarmers of Philadelphia, the Willow Grove, Pa., truck, Signal 22 from Trenton, N.J., as well as “coffee pots” from Leesburg and Mt. Holly, N.J. Unfortunately for the committee, all who wanted to bring apparatus could not due to space limitations.