Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Burns management in the military and humanitarian setting
  1. Amritpal Sandhu1,
  2. J B T Herron2 and
  3. N A Martin3,4
  1. 1Royal Army Medical Corps, Aldershot, UK
  2. 2University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK
  3. 3Joint Hospital Group South East, Aldershot, UK
  4. 4St Andrew's Burns Service, Chelmsford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Amritpal Sandhu, Royal Army Medical Corps, Aldershot, UK; amritpal.sandhu{at}


Burns are an unpredictable element of the modern battlespace and humanitarian operations. Most military burns are small and may not be a significant challenge for deployed healthcare assets but usually render the individual combat ineffective until healed. However, larger burns represent a more significant challenge because of the demand for fluid resuscitation therapy, early surgical intervention and regular wound management that can rapidly deplete surgical capabilities. Beyond the initial injury, longer-term consequences, such as psychological morbidity and loss of functional independence, are rarely considered as part of an ongoing care plan. Globally, most of the morbidity and mortality associated with burns are seen in less economically developed countries and are frequently associated with conflicts and natural disasters, but with simple interventions and resources, outcomes in these environments can be markedly improved. Prehospital providers should be confident to manage the initial assessment of a burn, including triaging for evacuation and packaging for safe transfer. This article provides an overview for prehospital providers on the management of thermal burns in military and humanitarian settings, with additional considerations for the management of chemical and electrical injuries.

  • trauma management
  • plastic & reconstructive surgery
  • accident & emergency medicine

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors AS, JBTH and NAM contributed to conception and intellectual content. AS led the initial drafting with input from JBTH and NAM. Critical appraisal and manuscript revisions were made by AS, JBTH and NAM. The final manuscript was approved by all authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. N/A.