In November 2019, six-year-old Knox sustained an exhaust burn to his thigh when a motorbike fell on top of him. Knox and his family live in a rural country town that was hit with severe drought so there was no clean water in the tank to do first-aid. Knox's mum, Chelsea, had to think quick on her feet, put saline on the burn and raced Knox to their nearest hospital.
"The drought hit us hard so water was pretty scarce. I think we had probably a foot of water left in that tank which was muddy. I'm a nurse so I just found everything that I could in my little first aid kit with the saline and the cold lines, just stuck that on and rushed off to hospital," recalls Chelsea.
Once they arrived at Orange local hospital, the doctors and nurses were able to contact the Kidsburns service at The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) for specialist third-degree burns advice. The Kidsburns service is a 24-hour digital referral service for paediatric burn injuries across NSW. It was first established in 2008 to help patients travelling from rural and remote NSW to Westmead for minor burns treatment. Kidsburns services a population of more than 1.8 million children across 800,000 square kilometres.
One of the Nurse Practioners of Kidsburns service, Maddie Jacques, was the attending nurse at CHW when the call from Orange came through. She received the images of Knox's burn from Orange hospital and was able to assess the burn straight away and has been supporting the family ever since.
"When I received the photos, it was clear Knox had a deep injury and would need to come to Sydney for an operation soon. I explained this to Chelsea so she could plan. I think it was a relief for her to have the same information and care as parents would have if they lived right near the Hospital," said Maddie.
Chelsea had to care for Knox's wound for a few weeks at home but Maddie was always a phone call away and Chelsea felt supported throughout the entire process.
A week after Knox's accident, the family drove three hours to CHW for his skin graft and Maddie and Chelsea were able to meet in person.
“She and the whole team were fantastic. We knew Knox was in the best place he could be,” said Chelsea.
After his surgery, Knox spent a week in a wheelchair but has since recovered remarkable well. The family still make the three-hour journey to the Hospital every couple of weeks for check-ups.
Burns are lifelong injuries – which is why the specialist burns team provides a lifelong service for kids like Knox and their families. Maddie’s team also connects families with specialists such as social workers and psychologists, who can help provide practical and emotional support.