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Thermal or chemical injury

Hazard Knowledge

The priorities and treatment of casualties who are involved in thermal, chemical or radiation events are the same as for any other trauma situation. Casualties with thermal injury may have other coexisting injuries.

Having extinguished the fire or carried out decontamination, a full primary survey should be carried out using <C> Ac B C D E. If spinal injury is suspected or cannot be excluded, manual in-line stabilisation should be applied.

The burning process should be stopped as quickly as possible and the patient removed from the source of thermal injury. Burnt clothing should be removed from the patient, along with any jewellery, unless either are adherent to the skin.

Patients with chemical burns may need irrigation with large amounts of water to clear the contaminant and specialist advice should be sought if a chemical is involved. Dry chemicals should be carefully brushed from the burn.

Irrigation for more than 10 minutes may cause hypothermia in the casualty. Be aware of the risk of hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly (NICE, 2012).

More information on thermal or chemical injuries is available from the Faculty of Prehospital Care