Ann. Medit. Burns Club - vol. VI - n. 2 - June 1993


We reprint here, from Vojensk6 Zdravotnick6 Listy, the Military Medical Journal of
Purkinie Military Medical Academy
(Czech Republic), the report written by Prof. Leo Klein M.D.

The Second International Conference on Burns and Fire Disasters: Perspectives 2000 took place in Palermo (Italy) from September 30th to October 3rd 1992. The G. Whitaker Foundation, the Mediterranean Burns Club (MBQ and the Department of Plastic Surgery and Burns Therapy, Palermo, were the main organizers of the Conference. Among others, the Civil Defence, the Red Cross, the Armed Forces and the emergency services from Italy and foreign countries, as well as various other organizations, scientific institutions, institutes and universities were collaborators and sponsors. The Conference was on a high professional and social level, with nearly 300 participants, of whom I I I were foreigners from 18 different countries. Besides a large Italian participation there were representatives from all the Mediterranean countries and also from the USA, Japan, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, UK, Uzbekistan and Switzerland.
The official Conference languages were English, French, Italian and Arabic, with simultaneous translation.
The rich scientific programme was organized in plenary sessions, round-tables and workshops, and video-sessions where films were projected.
In all, 122 lectures were delivered and nearly all were on a high scientific level with proper documentation.
The main topics of the communications covered the prevention and epidemiology of thermal injuries, intensive care in burns, immunology, complications in the healing of burn wounds, biornaterials, rehabilitation, and reconstruction in bums, electrical bums, etc. The session on fire disaster topics attracted special attention. Recommendations were given on the basis of personal experience: the fire in a grandstand in the Bradford football stadium (Settle, England), as well as an analysis of 14 major civil disasters during the last years (Arturson, Sweden). The readiness of medical institutions and other bodies for these emergency situations (disaster preparedness) was generally emphasized. Eldad (Israel), Virenque (France) and Azolov (Russia) focused on the objectives of staff training and practical preparation in model situations. Masellis (Italy), Flaujat (France) and Korol (Ukraine) stressed the importance of casualty triage under the conditions of mass disasters.
After the provision of first aid on the scene, helicopter transport seems to be the most effective method for rapid treatment (Masellis, Sangiorgi Montesanto, all from Italy).
The ARGO satellite telecommunications system operates permanently for the purpose of the perfect monitoring of the situation throughout the Italian territory, which makes it possible to solve emergency situations, thanks to the availability of updated information about free beds in all medical institutions (Martinelli, Italy). Otha (Japan) analysed the maturity of society and its relationship to and readiness for mass disasters, and Konigova (Czechoslovakia) emphasized the ethical problems in such situations. Reda-Mabrouk (Egypt) presented, on the basis of his own experience, a comparision of civil emergencies in peacetime with conditions of war medicine. Contreas (Italy) discussed the possibilities of the active participation of the Army Medical Corps in the reduction of the consequences of mass disasters. He presented his own experience in operations in Kurdistan, where a field hospital consisting of 14 special nonflammable ultralight tents was available. Each tent weighs only 160 kg and 4 persons can easily set it up. It is possible to put individual tents together.
A special section was devoted to industrial fire disasters and the specific problems of major forest fire. Specialists from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Russia (Cernobyl disaster) demonstrated their rich experience. The paper by Tiedemann (Switzerland) on the problems of prognosis ~nd the determination of the risk (percentage of probability) of accidents in large industrial and transport agglomerations, etc. was very interesting. Dick (Germany) discussed his personal experience of a major fire in the eight-storey building of the Surgery Clinic in Mainz. During the fire, which broke out in the morning hours, 377 patients had to be evacuated, including 37 from intensive care units. Thanks to the good organization of rescue work, no patient was injured. 330 firefighters, 200 staff of the clinic and hospital, 60 vehicles, and 20 buses for transportation of the patients were involved.
The importance of these problems was emphasized by representatives of the World Health Organization (Tekle) and the International Red Cross Committee (Meurant). These organizations perform great services of humanitarian aid at the present time, e.g. in Cambodia, Somalia and in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
The President of the MBC and the President of the Conference, Dr. Gunn (Switzerland), summarized with perfect knowledge all these problems and emphasized the necessity of international cooperation.
The Congress was held in the beautiful su'rroundings of the Hotel Torre Normanna, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, 35 km from Palermo. There was a permanent exhibition of medical, firefighting, telecommunication and other techniques (e.g. mobile water purification kit, ARGO system, etc.). The exhibition by medical firms reflected an atmosphere of professionality. The great amount of literature and information materials available for participants was of great benefit for the Conference. A visit to the Palermo Burns Centre was organized for all those interested.
In spite of the full scientifiq programme, the organizers successfully prepared a rich social programme with an outstanding opening ceremony held in the Palace of the Sicilian Parliament in Palermo, with the participation of distinguished representatives of political and social life. One unforgettable experience was the ceremony of the 1992 G. Whitaker Prize awarded to Professor Dr Jackson from England for his lifetime pioneer work in burn management.
A characteristic feature of the whole meeting was its high professional level and its demanding scientific discussions but also its constantly friendly and cordial atmosphere. Active Czechoslovak participation contributed to further international cooperation in the field of burns medicine, thus giving the best possible thanks to Prof. Masellis and Dr Gunn and to all the organizers for their marvellous hospitality. A magnificent midnight fireworks display above the surface of the Mediterranean Sea was the final event of this thoroughly successful Conference.


Leo Klein, M.D.

Purkinje Military Medical Academy

Hradec Krdlov6, Czechoslovakia


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