|Ann. Medit. Burns Club - vol. VI - n. 2 - June 1993
MEDITERRANEAN BURNS CLUB
THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE. ON
BURNS AND FIRE
DISASTERS: PERSPECTIVES 2000
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
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
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
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
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
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
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