Firefighting is an important and highly dangerous profession. A McHenry worker compensation attorney can relate stories of firefighters who suffer severe burns on the job, changing or ending their careers. While it is impossible to eliminate the hazards of firefighting, learning more about these dangers can help workers reduce the risks they face on a daily basis.
Injury risk is still high despite safety advances
Modern protective equipment has made firefighting more secure than it was in past decades. Despite these advances in safety technology, a McHenry worker compensation attorney knows from experience that walking into an active fire and attempting to fight it is always a high-risk activity. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 87 American firefighters died in the line of duty during 2014. For every lethal injury, there are dozens of non-fatal but serious injuries. No protective device can totally eliminate the possibility of thermal injury. Some areas of the body, such as the ears or the wrists, can be vulnerable to heat even when firefighters are wearing full equipment.
Minor burns can cause serious trouble later
Not all serious burn injuries are immediately apparent. While firefighters are working hard to contain and extinguish a fire, adrenaline is running high. In the immediate aftermath of a job, small burns may seem insignificant. In some cases, injured firefighters will not even feel pain from their burns in the first minutes and will refuse to stop working or seek medical treatment. This delay can be deadly. Skin and other tissue can continue to burn for hours if treatment is not applied. An initially small burn can lead to serious consequences, especially if it affects one of the following sensitive body areas:
- Face or eyes
- Trachea, lungs or other internal surfaces
If one or more of these areas is burned, the firefighter should seek immediate medical help.
When should firefighters seek treatment from a specialized burn center?
In the case of more serious burns, firefighters should seek treatment from a dedicated burn center. Serious cases include all third degree (full thickness) burns, all partial thickness burns covering 10 percent or more of total body surface, inhalation injuries, chemical burns, electrical burns and burns combined with other serious traumas, such as broken bones. Standard emergency rooms may not have the staff and equipment needed to treat these severe cases.
A McHenry worker compensation attorney knows about the difficulties of recovering from severe burns suffered on the job. If you are an injured firefighter, you may find it useful to consult with a personal injury lawyer to find out more about your rights and options.