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NEWS | March 18, 2024

U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center leads critical care training for San Antonio

By Danae Johnson U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command Public Affairs

From teaching life-saving skills to caring for civilian patients alongside Service Members, Military medicine continues to benefit local communities. The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is bringing together the unity of Army medical care within the San Antonio Community.

What started as the Burn Center's dedication to providing local first responders with burn care education grew into a desire for active training with hospital personnel and civilian organizations across Texas.

In the fall of 2023, the Burn Center began offering a two-day hands-on burn care training to 40 Acute Rehab personnel at San Antonio's Methodist Hospital, one of the Burn Center's outpatient facilities for patient referrals. This is an effort that Scott Dewey, Chief of the Rehabilitation Department at the Burn Center, says is among many efforts to help civilians and service members survive burns.

"If we truly care about the patient, we need to ensure that the entirety of their recovery process is as complete and as efficient as possible, and that includes the outpatient rehab side of it," said Maj. Maria Gonzalez, Registered Nurse and Chief of Clinical Education at the Burn Center. "Providing that education and information to our outpatient sites is critical for their outcomes."

Since 2019, the Burn Center's Burn Strong program has grown from a partnership with the San Antonio Fire Department to providing training across Texas, advancing knowledge in burn and trauma care and life support for first responders.

The program started with an idea by USAISR's Brent Sabatino, a registered nurse and the Burn Strong Outreach Injury Prevention Coordinator for the Intensive Care Unit at the Burn Center, who has trained prehospital first responders, fire department personnel, paramedics and other organizations throughout South Texas. For Sabatino, working with the Methodist Hospital is another way for the Burn Center to strengthen community relationships.

"We did not have much interaction with our community in 2019, and I thought that was something that we need to change because we do serve them even though we are a federal facility and a Level One trauma center," Sabatino said. "During peacetime, 60-70% of our patients are civilians traumas. I came up with how we should get closer to our community."

As the Burn Center looks into future challenges, Gonzalez emphasized that proper wound recovery may be a challenge for patients who experience continuing wound failure and repeat issues to overall care, which acute rehab facilities can prevent with adequate education.

"As we look into the future and prepare for potential mass casualty, it is important we are partnering and providing education to our civilian agencies as well as strengthening those relationships because there may come a time when we will rely on those relationships and need to work with them to provide care to our patients," Gonzalez said.

Members of the Burn Center team who assisted with the Methodist Hospital training include:

  • Tanya Luckado, Registered Nurse, Burn Program Manager
  • Sarah Flores, Physical Therapist, Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Capt. Elisa Barboza, Physical Therapist, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Deputy Chief, Burn Rehab
  • Christy Yingling, Occupational Therapist Registered/Licensed, MOT
  • Sgt. Matthew Hansen, Licensed Vocational Nurse, Burn Clinic Assistant, Non-commissioned Officer in Charge.