BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - UPDATE
On Tuesday, October 17, the patient who was in fair condition was upgraded to good condition and the patient who was in serious condition remains so.
As an oil platform on Lake Ponchartrain was engulfed in flames during the late hours of Sunday night, an alert went out to the Baton Rouge General Burn Center. As the region's only certified burn center, it was likely their skills would be needed. By Monday morning, two of the seven victims of the explosion were in their care.
As of Monday evening, hospital officials say one patient was listed in fair condition and one was listed in serious condition.
"We have actually taken care of hundreds of off shore or coastal explosions in addition to the thousands of patients we've taken care of since the 70s when our burn program started," explained Dr. Tracee Short, director of the Burn Center.
Thanks to a strong relationship with agencies like the Coast Guard and the Louisiana Emergency Response Network, a kind of control tower for emergency medical resources, the staff at BRG was ready to assess and begin specialized treatment for those two patients.
With serious burns, experts say the first few hours are critical. Each layer of skin plays a vital role, doing things like regulating body temperature and preventing infection.
However, the Burn Center is on the cutting edge of treatment. "We do things with new skin technologies where we're actually able to graft using much less skin. We're doing lot of work where we're decreasing dressings, which decreases the pain and morbidity," explained Short.
The Burn Center also focuses on the patient's long-term recovery, overcoming both the physical pain and the emotional trauma.
"With burns, those patients carry those scars and that trauma with them for life, so our program is comprehensive," said Short. "Yes, we want to get you physically back to where you were, but we're also there to provide that compassion and that encouragement and kind of motivate and help you realize that there is life beyond that trauma."
The Burn Center serves patients of all ages from 150 zip codes. The nearest similar facilities are in Texas and Florida, according to the hospital. Short explains the most common source of burns they treat are from household accidents, and they treat anywhere from 500 to 600 patients a year.