"Optimizing Combat Casualty Care"
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center staff prep a patient for a surgical procedure.

U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center staff prep a patient for a surgical procedure. Photo by Steven Galvan

Burn Center sets new patient admittance record in 2015

By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
02 FEBRUARY 2016

The U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, set a new record in 2015 with the most patients being admitted in a calendar year. In 2015 there were 819 patients admitted to the Burn Center with the previous record was set in 2012 at 793.

Burn Center Director Col. (Dr.) Booker T. King confirmed the numbers stating that 30 patients were military Service Members – two from Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, 43 were Department of Defense beneficiaries and the remainder of the patients were civilians from the South Texas region.

Collocated at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, the USAISR Burn Center is the sole burn unit for the DOD and the largest burn center in Texas. Since 2003, 992 combat burn casualties and more than 4,500 civilians have been treated by approximately 300 medical professionals.

According to King, treating burn patients is a complex process and it is essential for burn care providers to maintain their proficiency to care for service members and civilian patients.

“Every time that I have deployed to a combat zone the majority of the patients were civilians,” he said.

King added that maintaining skills is necessary in order to save lives during wartime. The burn center staff provides pre-deployment training to combat care providers.

“For some this is their first exposure to critically burned and injured Warriors,” said King. “We are also important to the military because of the combat casualty care research that we conduct for the battlefield wounded.

“So we are an important combat skills sustainment platform. We have to stay engaged in burn care treatment to maintain that skill. It’s not like a switch that you can turn on and off. No one knows when or where the next big conflict is going to be, but we have to be ready.”