Trauma Care: Things You Need But Didn’t Know You Needed

Think about some things you didn’t know you needed … or hoped you’d never need … until you do. A fire extinguisher. A clone of your toddler’s stuffed animal; the one that you lost on vacation and she can’t sleep without. A digital assistant, such as Ask Google, Siri or Alexa. Yep, pretty smart thinking on your part to have these items on hand in a situation.

That’s how it is with trauma centers. We hope you never need one, but if you or someone you love suffers a serious or life-threatening injury, it’s nice to know there are a number of them around North Texas.

Why we need trauma centers.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 30 Texans die every day from injuries — about 10,000 each year. Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in persons aged 1 to 44 years old. For every trauma victim who dies, at least six are seriously injured. These sobering statistics demonstrate that having a trauma center nearby can mean the difference between life and death for no less than 60,000 Texans annually.

Where trauma centers are located.

Not every hospital is a trauma center, as the resources and staff required to maintain one require a true commitment to providing comprehensive regional care for every aspect of injury – from prevention through rehabilitation. Therefore, trauma centers are located in hospitals equipped with specific resources and trauma specialists. These trauma experts are specially trained to provide treatment and care to severely injured patients. Traumatic injuries can include motor vehicle accidents and falls, among others.

Trauma center services complement traditional hospital and emergency department services and enhance the level of care that hospitals provide to the communities they serve.

The process to becoming a designated trauma center is voluntary. Hospitals seeking the designation must operate as a trauma center for one year before they can apply for verification by the American College of Surgeons.

Trauma center levels.

Trauma centers are categorized by levels, from I through IV. Level I is the highest level of trauma care for the most seriously injured patients. In North Texas, the first and only hospital in Collin County to achieve Level I Trauma Center classification is Medical City Plano, which received verification from the American College of Surgeons and designation from the Texas Department of State Health Services in May 2017.

Trauma surgeon Matt Carrick, MD, trauma director at Medical City Plano, explains the difference in trauma levels and why having a Level I trauma center in Collin County is so important to the community.

According to the American Trauma Society, elements of a Level I trauma center include:

  • 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care
  • Providing leadership in prevention and public education to surrounding communities
  • Providing continuing education for the trauma team members.
  • Operating an organized teaching and research effort to help advance innovations in trauma care
  • Providing a program for substance abuse screening and patient intervention
  • Operating as a referral resource for communities in nearby regions

What to do if you need emergency care.

  • Call 911 for potentially life-threatening situations
  • Head to the ER for more serious injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening but require the specially skilled people and equipment found only in emergency rooms
  • When in doubt, call 911 or go to the nearest ER

It can often be difficult to know when to go to the ER, especially when children are involved. Here are some helpful links:

Medical City Healthcare has 7 trauma centers located throughout the DFW area.

Medical City Plano’s Trauma I designation is strongly connected to its burn center, the first and only unit of its kind in Collin County.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

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How to be Fire-Safe and What to Do if You Get Burned

burn-week1-fbEvery February, elementary-age school children across North Texas participate in National Burn Awareness Week, during which they learn about different types of burns and their causes and prevention. Hmm. We suspect that most of the 450,000 burns that require emergency room medical treatment each year (and the cooking fires, worn-out space heaters and scalding hot cooking liquids that cause them) could be avoided if the same training were available to adults.

So here’s our grown-up version of Burn Prevention Week. You won’t receive a certificate of completion. But you will learn from real North Texas burn survivors and get plenty of practical tips to help you fireproof your home and workplace.


Mrs. Potts … in the kitchen … with the frying pan. 

You don’t have to be a detective to guess that more than a third of all home fires in Texas in 2014 started in the kitchen. Or that cooking fires were largely responsible. You just have to have a clue about what to do when cooking.

  • Keep your eye on what you fry: most cooking fires involve fried foods
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove or use back burners
  • Wear oven mitts and roll up long sleeves
  • Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby to smother flames
  • The kitchen is an excellent place for a fire extinguisher

Real-life kitchen fire survivor Chris Kouba from Prosper, TX.

While preparing a meal on his stove top, Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Chris Kouba was engulfed in the flames of a grease fire. Prosper EMS took him directly to Medical City Plano’s Burn & Reconstructive Center, which offers advanced burn care to patients from Texas and surrounding states.

If you get burned, follow these tips from Salil Gulati, MD, plastic surgeon and burn specialist at Medical City Plano.

  • Don’t panic
  • Get away from the source of the burn
  • Don’t immerse burns in water or apply ice, butter or ointments
  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth
  • Call 911 and seek medical treatment

Sometimes fire can be the pits.

In 2014, Texas fire departments responded to 38,440 outdoor fires; the most fires in any single category. The No. 1 accidental outdoor fire culprit? Open flames, embers and torches, which includes fire pits and grills. Here’s how to operate them safely.

Grilling safety:

  • Grill outdoors only, away from structures and overhanging branches
  • Clean grates and drip trays
  • Gas grills account for 4 out of 5 grill fires, so check for leaks or cracks in the hoses and connections annually; here’s how:
  • Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle
  • Turn on the propane tank; if there is a gas leak, the propane will release bubbles around the hose (big enough to see)
  • No bubbles means your grill is safe; bubbles indicate your grill needs servicing before use

Campfire safety:

  • Place outdoor pits on concrete, dirt or gravel in flat, open areas away from trees and structures
  • Always use a fire screen and have a fire extinguisher handy
  • Place nonflammable seating four feet away
  • Don’t light in wet, windy conditions
  • Extinguish completely before leaving
  • Use only seasoned woods to light/maintain fire; never use accelerants, garbage or other materials

Real-life campfire survivor Joel Hall.

Joel Hall arrived at Lake Texoma with his family and the first thing the kids wanted to do was make s’mores. The wood was wet, but Joel, an experienced fire builder, thought he could get it going with lighter fluid. After an entire can failed to produce flames, he turned to something stronger. Sadly, the s’mores never got made and Joel was brought to the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Texas for treatment of third-degree burns.

Final exam: Get your degree in burns.

As Joel’s story illustrates, the more serious a burn is, the less it will hurt. Brush up on burns so you’ll know when to seek help.

  • First-degree: involves only the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and is red and painful — think sunburn
  • Second-degree: involves parts of the dermis (inner layer) and displays wide variation, from red, blistered, painful and swollen to blistering with whitish tissue underneath the skin
  • Third-degree: involves all of the dermis and displays deep, whitish color; there is no pain when you press on the burn since nerve endings are destroyed
  • Fourth-degree: damage extends to tendons and bones and there is no pain

Matthew Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director at Medical City Plano, discusses burn degrees.

Burn sources at home and work.

There are many ways to get burned, especially in the winter. Dr. Gulati discusses the following potential sources and more in the video below.

Fire or flame

  • 30 percent of home-heating fires happen between 5 to 9 p.m.
  • One-third occur because the heat source is too close to flammable items

Scalding from hot water or cooking liquids

  • The No. 1 way children get burned
  • Set your hot water heater to 120°F or low-med

Electrical burns

  • Space heaters are responsible for roughly one-third of all home-heating fires and 80 percent of home-heating fire deaths
  • These can be dangerous when used at work, too, so make sure you unplug them when you leave and replace if worn out

We hope you put your degree in burns to good use, but if things get too hot to handle, one of our many Medical City Healthcare ER locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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How to Play with Fire and Not Cook Your Goose on Turkey Day

real-men-2016-fbWe know why you guys like the fall holiday season. Besides feasting and football, there are legitimate reasons to play with fire and knives. Fair enough. So here’s what you need to know to prevent and treat burns and cuts.

Last year, we told you that real men wear mitts to prevent burns (and burning down the house) while cooking Thanksgiving dinner — specifically, deep-fried turkey. But did you listen? Maybe some of you did. But from others we heard the all-too familiar, “Relax, we’ve done this a million times.” Famous last words if there ever were any.

So, okay, we won’t nag you about combustible turkeys again, even though Texas led the nation in deep-fried turkey fires eight years in a row. However, we’d like to remind you that cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home injuries in Texas and that on Thanksgiving Day, the number of cooking fires is triple that of an average day.

Which makes this a great time for a quick refresher course on fire and burn safety. Ready? Here it is:

Top 5 rules of cooking fire safety:

Follow these hard and fast rules at all times and you’ll be on your way to a safe supper.

  1. Man your pan, man: never leave your cooking unattended
  2. Wear oven mitts and roll up long sleeves
  3. Keep small children and pets away from all flammable heat sources
  4. Grills, fire pits and yes — fryers — should be used outdoors only and away from flammable structures and trees
  5. Keep pot lids close by to smother flames and have at least one fire extinguisher in your home and know how to use it

Sometimes you’re doing everything right and disaster still strikes. That’s what happened to Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Chris Kouba, who was engulfed in the flames of a grease fire while cooking on his stovetop. Thankfully, Prosper EMS took him straight to Medical City Plano’s Burn & Reconstructive Center, which offers advanced burn care to patients from Texas and surrounding states.

If you are involved in a fire:

  • Don’t panic
  • Remove yourself from whatever is burning; stop, drop and roll
  • Check closed doors with the back of your hand; if hot, don’t open
  • Stay low to the ground and follow your escape plan
  • Call 911 and seek treatment for burns

Matthew Carrick, MD, trauma medical director at Medical City Plano, explains what to do in a burn emergency.

Put that down, you’ll cut yourself.

In addition to burn injuries, many people accidentally cut themselves over the Thanksgiving holiday. Know how we know? We asked Tim Hartman, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City ER Stonebridge.

“Last year, we saw a lot of cuts in the ER,” said Dr. Hartman. “The first 6 patients we had on Thanksgiving were all hand lacerations, ranging from a fellow with a hunting knife working on a deer to mothers working on turkeys in the kitchen and opening cans.”

Dr. Hartman says people are often unsure how to tell when a cut is severe enough to go to their local emergency room.

“First of all, if the wound is dirty, such as from a hunting knife, you’re probably going to want to go to the ER and let us wash it out thoroughly,” Dr. Hartman said. “Secondly, if you’re not able to stop the bleeding at home, you need to come in to the ER.”

Watch Dr. Hartman’s video for these tips and more, including when it’s a good idea to use tissue glue on your kids’ cuts and when it’s not.

Safe knife handling tips.

Most cooking lacerations can be avoided by following these cutting safety tips:

  • Always use the correct knife (size and blade) and a cutting board
  • Use sharp knives; dull blades cause more accidents
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing; don’t multitask
  • Don’t attempt to catch a falling knife
  • Don’t leave knives in the sink; wash them immediately and put them away

BurnInfographicFINALWe wish you and your family a very safe and happy Thanksgiving, but if famous last words leave you in need of expert emergency care, one of our many Medical City Healthcate emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Visit to find a fast Medical City Healthcare ER near you.

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Know How to Make Family Campouts Fun and Injury-Free


It’s spring in Texas and you know what that means: Don’t blink or you’ll miss the fleeting window of weather that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right for all kinds of outdoor family activities. So yay, let’s go camping!

Before you pack the tent and refill the tackle box, consider this: In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a one-of-a-kind study tracking the number of Americans injured each year during outdoor recreational activities and treated in emergency rooms. Turns out, it’s nearly 213,000, with more than half of them between the ages of 10 to 24.

Snakebites3-FBTo be fair, the majority are injured snowboarding (no surprise there) and sledding — admittedly winter sports. But No. 3 on the boo-boo list is a springtime camping favorite: hiking. That’s because the hills are alive with rocks, ruts, roots and ravines just waiting for flora- and fauna-watching hikers to trip or fall over them.

It’s hard to tell the difference between a fracture and a sprain without an X-ray, but significant swelling or deformity usually indicates a serious injury and requires immediate medical treatment. For less serious soft tissue injuries, including minor sprains, bruises, muscle and ligament strains, use the RICE protocol:

R – Rest the affected area by keeping it still and limiting weight bearing.

I – Ice to minimize swelling, but not directly on skin or for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

C – Compression to support and protect the injury, as well as limit swelling.

E – Elevate the injured area.

Hurtful hills aren’t the only camping menace, which is why it pays to act like a
Scout and always be prepared.

We want s’mores!

No camping trip is complete without a roaring fire over which the kids toast marshmallows for yummy s’mores. Even when weather conditions aren’t optimal, we sometimes go above and beyond to make this camping ritual happen.

Such was the case for burn patient and survivor Joel Hall, an experienced campfire builder who battled wet wood with an entire can of lighter fluid before turning to something stronger. Sadly, the s’mores never got made and Joel was brought to the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Texas at The Medical Center of Plano for treatment of third-degree burns.

Watch Joel and his doctor, Salil Gulati, MD, plastic surgeon and burn specialist, tell his cautionary tale in this video:

Don’t get burned.

NEVER USE FLAMMABLE LIQUID, including lighter fluid, gasoline, diesel fuel and other dangerous liquids, to ignite your fire. Follow these additional tips to make sure everyone comes home unscathed.

  • Build fires in designated rings or pits only.
  • Make sure vehicles, tents and other items are at a considerable distance from the fire.
  • Defer to Mother Nature: wet wood, windy conditions and lightning are signs it’s time to pick another activity.
  • Never leave a fire unattended or allow children or pets to play near it.
  • Extinguish the fire by drowning it completely with water. Covering it with dirt can keep hot coals alive and capable of inflicting burns for 24 hours.

I don’t like spiders and snakes.

If you or your child is bitten by a spider or snake, what you do in the first minutes could be the difference between life and death.

  • Call for help immediately.
  • Prevent venom from circulating faster by minimizing movement, lying down and keeping the bitten extremity at body level.
  • Remove items that may become problematic if swelling occurs, such as tight clothing, rings, bracelets and watches.
  • Apply pressure to the bitten area but don’t restrict chest movement or breathing.
  • Arrange for transport to the nearest hospital emergency room, which should have local anti-venom available.

More camping safety tips.

  • NEVER swim, hike, boat or do any wilderness activity alone.
  • Get vaccinations up to date, especially tetanus. Same goes for pets.
  • Avoid tick and mosquito bites with insect repellent and appropriate clothing.
  • Leaves of three; let it be. Teach kids to identify and avoid poisonous plants.
  • Avoid wild animals and keep food in sealed containers out of their reach.
  • Cook and chill foods properly to avoid food poisoning.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen, and stay hydrated to avoid heat-related injuries.
  • Wear life jackets for water activities and don’t swallow water you swim in.
  • Always carry your EpiPen.

Family camping trips create lifelong memories, so make sure they’re good ones by keeping everyone safe. If someone in your family suffers an injury, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Serious burns can be evaluated and treated at the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Texas at Medical City Plano.

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Sources/Links: to Care for a Sprained Ankle.aspx

First Aid for Burns: 5 Things You Should Never Do

If you’ve ever felt the sting of a hot curling iron or a sizzling barbecue grill, you know how much these relatively minor burns hurt. You probably ran cold water on the singed area or applied some ice—we’ll tell you why that’s not a good idea—and went about your merry way. But would you know what to do for a more serious burn?

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