Burn Survivor

Duane Wright
Duane Wright

Duane Wright was 21-years-old when a 200-foot wall of flames engulfed him and fellow seasonal fire fighters, causing third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body. He spent the next seven weeks receiving treatment at what was then known as the UC Davis Regional Burn Center.

“Burn treatment is a nightmare,” said Wright, who struggled for nine years before he had the courage to wear a short-sleeve shirt again. “But the staff conducted my treatment with dignity, and loved me enough to do what they needed to do to help me. Without their support, there would have been no happy ending.”

Wright said his physical and emotional healing process was ameliorated by the Firefighters Burn Institute, a nonprofit that has offered post-hospital support to burn survivors for nearly 40 years. He now manages TLCS Mental Health Crisis Respite Center—a program tied to the UC Davis Medical Center’s Emergency Department that is available to all Sacramento County residents 18 years and older who are struggling with acute mental health crises.

In 2010, the Firefighters Burn Institute strengthened its long affiliation with UC Davis by pledging more than $2 million toward construction of a new burn facility, the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center. The center opened in 2010 as part of UC Davis Health System’s new surgery and emergency services pavilion.

“By their nature, firefighters are caregivers, and the Firefighters Burn Institute is a natural extension of the work firefighters do in the community day in and day out,” said Jim Doucette, the institute’s executive director. “We offer many programs and services to burn survivors and sponsor education and research for the medical professionals that treat these injured folks. One of our top priorities is that we have the best burn care possible in this region – and we feel strongly that Sacramento does!”