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Bucks dad saves son from life-long scarring after burn

Bucks Healthcare are raising awareness about cooling

Published by the Mix96 News Team at 5:43am 22nd October 2019. (Updated at 5:48am 22nd October 2019) 4-minute read.

Bucks dad saves son from life-long scarring after burn

A dad from Buckinghamshire helped prevent life long scaring on his sons legs after a hot tea was spilt on him.

Scott Gray was playing with his two sons, when he saw Archie knock the mug, spilling the drink down his legs.

His quick actions have led to praise from doctors who have been looking into burns.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust burns consultant, Mr Mike Tyler, has praised the dad's quick thinking for preventing life-long scarring of his son's legs by cooling his skin in cold water for 20 minutes immediately after the accident.

What happened to Archie?

Earlier this year Dad, Scott Gray, had just made a cup of tea at home and left it on the side while playing with his sons four year old Archie and two year old Freddie.

Scott happened to glance up and see Archie knock the tea off the side and onto his trousers.

Dad acted immediately by whipping off Archie's trousers but was horrified to see Archie's skin come off with them and that his legs had turned a dark red.

Arch Gray
Archie Gray

He carried his son upstairs, put him in the bath and started running cold water, calling for an ambulance while the bath was running. 

The ambulance arrived within 10 mins and the paramedics reassured Scott that he'd done exactly the right thing by treating with cold water and not covering Archie's legs.

According to Scott:

"I've done first aid training, but nothing specifically related to burns, I just used my head and thought that if cold water works for a burnt finger or hand, then it must work for legs also - at the time I didn't know for sure I was taking the right action."

The ambulance took them to Royal Berkshire Hospital where doctors took one look at Archie's legs and realised the family need treatment in the specialist burns unit Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

On arrival at Stoke Mandeville they were met by specialist burns consultant, Mr Mike Tyler who assessed the injury. 

Mr Tyler said:

"This is exactly the type of injury where good first aid with cooling can make a real difference to the outcome: Archie had scalded 5% of his body surface area and typically children with this size of burn may well require a skin grafting operation to the worst affected areas and some form of life long scarring is common.

"I prepared Archie's parents for this. 

"Archie spent five days in hospital and had a final assessment 5 months later when he was discharged.

"I was delighted to find that Archie's legs healed brilliantly and Archie was discharged without any scars.

"I am convinced that Scott's actions had saved Archie from either an operation or a prolonged period of dressings and had prevented him from having scarred legs.

"We regularly see children with such injuries, yet many people don't understand the benefits of cooling the burn straight away.

"I'm extremely keen to get the message out that placing the skin in cold water for 20 minutes can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the injury.

"Fifteen; twenty; twenty five': Fifteen degrees (cold tap water), for twenty minutes can restore 25% of the damaged skin."

Consultants from the Plastics and Burns unit at the Trust have been involved in research with Oxford University to quantify and understand how much cooling helps so that effective first aid advice can be shared.

The research undertaken demonstrates that following scald injuries cooling with cold tap water for 20 minutes can reduce the amount of damage to the skin by 25%.

So, if the burn is at that critical point between healing without a scar and healing with one, then first aid will make a crucial difference to the rest of the patient's life.

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