Local burn specialist explains explosion injuries

Local burn specialist explains explosion injuries

Of the seven people rescued after the gas platform explosion on Sunday, two people are now being treated at a burn center in Baton Rouge. 

The initial blast shook several neighborhoods in Kenner.

"Things fell off tables, it sounded like a bomb drop," a witness said.

Then the enormous fire lit up the sky as crews rushed in to put it out.

"As of right now we have seven that have been transported to the hospital," Sheriff Joe Lopinto said. 

Remarkably crews were able to rescue seven people and take them to nearby hospitals. However, two were transferred to the Baton Rouge General Hospital where there's a specialized burn unit.

"The patients that were moved there, that tells me that they had burn injuries. Often times they are in the hospital for months," Dr. Abigail Chaffin, a surgeon, and professor with Tulane Medical School.

As a specialist Dr. Chaffin regularly sees people with minor burns, that is first degree, and sometimes second degree, but the victims from the blast may have suffered much more serious injuries.

"An explosion essentially causes a blast injury, which could cause injuries throughout the entire body," Dr. Chaffin said.

That means there could be internal damage to organs, as well as severe burns that penetrate through the skin, and potentially all the way to the bone.

"Your body would have a hard time healing that with no remaining skin left in that area, so the dead skin needs to be removed and then replaced with skin grafts from the rest of your body in most cases," Chaffin said.

Chaffin says the two patients who were sent to Baton Rouge are in the right place to be treated.  She says it's the only center nearby that is certified by the American Burn Association.  Earlier Monday, one of the attending physicians explained how they were treating the patients that were transferred.

"We treat an oil rig explosion just like a motor vehicle accident, so we figure out what is the most impending injuries, and we treat those first," Dr. Tracee Short said.

Back here at home, Dr. Chaffin says the road to recovery could be a long one.  

"They also undergo intensive physical therapy and occupational to get their burned limbs working again."

However for now, she's hoping for the best.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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