Otraco funds study to reduce occurrence of burn-related trauma

By RBWH Business and Relationship Development Manager, Rachell Buckley 

Murray Caldwell was enjoying a vacation with his wife and children in October 2013, when a freak accident inside their caravan left Murray with severe burns to 32% of his body. His face, arms and legs received third degree burns in the gas leak explosion, and he was quickly taken to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) for treatment.  

He was in a critical condition and had to be brought back to life three times by the team in the Professor Stuart Pegg Adult Burns Centre at the hospital. He then had to undergo a program of intensive treatment and rehabilitation.

Thankfully he survived and now has a new lease of life. 

Murray was fortunate to be cared for at RBWH as, not only is it Queensland’s largest hospital, but its Burns Unit is internationally recognised as having the best burns outcomes in the world, with just a two per cent mortality rate. Essentially, this means that your chance of surviving from a burns injury is higher at RBWH than anywhere else in the world.  

At the time of the accident, Murray worked for Otraco. After hearing the news of Murray’s ordeal, Otraco pledged its support and, in August 2014, Otraco Operations Manager, Greg Glennon, paid a visit to RBWH Foundation to present a $10,000 cheque to support a burns prevention study.  

According to RBWH Acting Director of Burns, Associate Professor Michael Muller, trauma – including burn injury – is the leading cause of death and disability in Australians under 40 years of age. Many, if not most, of these accidents are preventable.

“While passive prevention through product design and legislation typically has longer-lasting effects, education has an important and more immediate role to play in burn injury prevention,” A/Prof Muller said. 

“This is why we are about to embark on a one-and-a-half year neural correlate study that aims to improve methods of burn injury prevention. Results from this study will guide the development of a multimedia burns prevention campaign that will educate the wider community. It will be particularly targeted at young males (16-39 years of age), who are most at risk.   

“A number of young males will be surveyed to see how they perceive safety when working with petrol and using petrol to accelerate a fire, as well as their motivation and what they consider acceptable risks. 

“From these respondents, a percentage considered at high and low risk of flame and accelerant behaviour will undergo a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan of the brain, while being shown a number of potential multimedia messages that activate a range of emotions, including fear arousal. 

“Cognitive and attention parameters will help us measure the perceived impact that multimedia has on the participants, so that we can work towards a campaign that will be most effective.” 

While at the hospital, Greg reiterated the importance that Otraco places on Zero Harm and announced that Otraco employees would be taking part in the burns prevention study.

“We are committed to providing a safe work environment through our systems and processes, as well as training and supervision – ensuring that our people remain safe from injury and risks to their health,” Mr Glennon said. 

“This commitment extends to the health and safety of our employees in their time off, and this partnership goes that extra step to ensure that the Zero Harm culture promoted at work is practised at home.”

RBWH cares for over 700,000 patients (male and female) every year through its Emergency, Intensive Care, Maternity, Cancer Care, Neurology, Mental Health, Palliative Care and many other departments. These patients come not only from Brisbane, but from all over Queensland, Northern New South Wales, the Northern Territory and neighbouring countries in the South West Pacific.

To support the work of Burns, Trauma and Intensive Care Units and their ongoing research to develop better treatment methods for critically ill patients, contact Rachell at RBWH Foundation on (07) 3646 3547 or r.buckley@rbwhfoundation.com.au  

For more information visit www.rbwhfoundation.com.au 

Otraco International - RBHW Foundation Cheque Handover

Pictured at the cheque handover are (from left): Dr Michael Muller, Murray Caldwell, Dr Jenny Paratz, Grace Schweizer, Greg Glennon and Rachell Buckley