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Off-duty Firefighters Jump Into Action

Lead Family to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California

Ayden is a 10-year-old boy who has a long and diverse set of interests. He loves playing drums, skiing, golfing, competitive swimming, baseball, football, basketball and many other sports. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends, a close-knit group he has known since he was little. Ayden is slowly getting back into all the activities he loves, following a terrifying accident several months ago.

This past spring Ayden was at a cookout with his family. Ayden’s dad, Ravin, who is a chef, was volunteering his time to cook for the big event. As Ayden was standing near his dad and the cooking station, a sudden gust of strong wind blew a pop-up shade tent into the cooking station, causing boiling water and hot food to spill onto Ayden’s legs and feet.

According to Ayden’s mom, Ashlee, two very important details made that moment less tragic for Ayden. Firstly, Ayden was wearing long pants and socks that afternoon, which offered some protection from the boiling water. Secondly, four off-duty firefighters had arrived just minutes before the accident.

The firefighters immediately sprang into action. One quickly disinfected the large kitchen sink so they could treat Ayden’s burns with water, another called for help and the others grabbed their first-aid supplies. The team worked quickly to triage Ayden’s burns with bandages and water. At that point Ayden’s parents faced a very difficult choice. They could transport Ayden by ambulance to the nearest emergency room in Yolo County, which is not a world-class burn facility. The second option was to transport Ayden themselves to the UC Davis emergency room, which was closer to home in Sacramento and, more importantly, close to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.

“The firefighters strongly recommended that Ayden go to Shriners [Hospital],” said Ashlee. “They knew that Shriners specialized in pediatric burn care, and they all told us we must go there.”

Ashlee and Ravin put Ayden in the family car and raced to Sacramento. They took Ayden to the UC Davis emergency room, where doctors treated his pain and initiated his transfer to the Northern California Shriners Hospital. That evening the Shriners Hospitals burn team would treat Ayden for second- and third-degree burns to 65% of his right leg and 80% of his left foot.

According to Ashlee, those first days in the hospital were extremely difficult for Ayden, but the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California doctors and nurses did many things to help make Ayden more comfortable. Notably, the nurses quickly realized that Ayden was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD from the accident, and the sound of running water during his dressing changes triggered severe anxiety. Ayden’s nurses modified his dressing changes. Rather than use running water to clean his burn wounds, they prepared buckets of clean water.

“Everyone from the doctors, nurses and child life specialists did everything they could to make Ayden feel as comfortable as possible,” said Ashlee. “The nurses gave him a say in how his dressing changes would happen. The child life specialists made special fidget spinners to distract him. The facility dog, Yogo, would come visit Ayden when we asked for him. All those details really made a big difference. And perhaps even most helpful was the consistency in staff. He learned to trust his nurses because he was consistently cared for by the same people.”

Ayden was discharged from the hospital after several days and would continue outpatient burn care for months following his injury. He would also undergo skin graft surgery for his third-degree burns. According to Ashlee, the consistency in Ayden’s care team continued even after Ayden was discharged from the hospital. “Even when we came to the out-patient clinic for dressing changes, it was always very comforting to Ayden that the same nurses, therapists and child life specialists would be there for him consistently at every visit. He learned to trust them, and they helped him overcome his fears of treatment,” she said.

Today, Ayden’s prognosis is excellent. He continues to use custom-fit leg braces provided by the Northern California Shriners Hospital staff to help him wear shoes comfortably. He continues to be followed by his burn care team. He is easing back into all his favorite activities and hopes to get back on skis someday soon.

Ashlee counts her blessings when she thinks about Ayden’s injury. She is very thankful to see her son doing so well, physically and emotionally. She is thankful for several things that went right that day – the off-duty firefighters, the cooler weather that made Ayden wear pants that day, and the firefighters recommending she go to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.

“It was such a difficult injury,” said Ashlee. “But we are so fortunate that many other things went right for us that day, including those four amazing firefighters… and them telling us to go to Shriners.”

Ayden with pet therapy dog

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