Firefighters bring surprise to kids at local Burn Center

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 17, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Today, some Augusta firefighters paid a surprise visit to kids at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. This is the twentieth year the fire department has teamed up with the CSRA Credit Union to pass out stuffed animals to critical care patients.

The Burn Center sees between two and three thousand patients from all over the Southeast every single year. Some of their most resilient patients are children. Firefighters cradled stuffed animals as they walk room to room, bringing little buddies to kids at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. Some of the children are burn patients, others are critical care like little Brayden Kromka.

"He's nine months old, he's a very happy little boy and he likes to play and be outside," Brayden's Mom, Brianna, starts to laugh as the little boy giggles and hides his head from News 12's camera. Brayden and his family are waiting to hear why he's been having trouble breathing.

Brianna adds, "I think it's great what the fire department and the Credit Union is doing with the kids with the toys. I know all the kids will enjoy them!"

Dr. Richard Cartie is the director of Pediatric Critical Care and says about 25-30% of patients at the Burn Center are kids.

"We see about 650 to 750 kids per year, obviously coming to us from a number of states." Kids like five-month-old Curtis, who was flown in from Tennessee overnight with burns.

Dr. Cartie explains, "Most of the pediatric patients we get have small burns. The child pulled hot coffee off of a table, toddler goes running through an old ash pile and burns the bottom of his feet. That's the type of injury we see day to day."

And with Summer coming up, he says more pediatric accidents are inevitable.

"Because kids are out of school, number one we have teenagers doing relatively dumb things because they're bored. And also, because kids are home from school, they're much more likely to have something happen because of lack of supervision issues with the parents."

But Dr. Cartie says about ten percent of his cases every year are not accidents. "Unfortunately, that is a regular part of my job. We do see a lot of burns that we know as soon as we see them it was an intentional burn. I am regularly involved with law enforcement and child protective services throughout the entire Southeast. Most of them have me on speed dial."

Accident or not, he says, kids are still kids, and having a soft new friend to play with helps make their visit to the hospital a little less scary. Brianna and Brayden wave goodbye, "Thank you for all you've done for us!"


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