Droughts, rising temperatures and strong winds have created the perfect storm for California wildfires. Each year the Golden State experiences longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change. Whether it is the flames or smoke, fires pose a risk to health and safety.
The increasing frequency of wildfires increases the possibility of a burn mass casualty incident (BMCI), in which the number of burn victims exceeds capacity of the only regional burn center in San Diego County. With that in mind, the San Diego community has come together to plan, prepare and respond to a potential BMCI event.
The County of San Diego Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch and other health care community partners, in collaboration with the UC San Diego Health Regional Burn Center and the Department of Emergency Management, developed and finalized the San Diego Healthcare Disaster Coalition Burn Surge Annex for 2022. The plan provides partners with guidelines for preparedness and response to wildfire events. It includes supplies to keep on hand, communication modalities for virtual visits from burn specialists, and assessment and care information. Facilities that are not accustomed to receiving burn patients will be prepared to receive burn patients and provide initial assessments and care.
Additionally, UC San Diego Health Regional Burn Center developed burn care disaster training for all first responders and health care workers. This specialized training provides information on assessing wounds, injuries and burns wound care. The training includes a regional tabletop exercise to assess and validate the guidance.