Fifteen-year-old Joshua knows just how dangerous fire can be, suffering from second and third degree burns to his hand last year.
Despite experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, Josh bravely shared his story with us in the hope to spread awareness and help others who might be going through a similar situation.
Tell us a bit about yourself Josh!
My name is Joshua Burnett and I am fifteen years old. My favourite things to do include playing basketball, rugby and spending time with my family and friends.
How did you sustain your injuries?
On 20 June 2021, I suffered second and third degree burns to my hand. It was the most painful thing I have ever felt.
It was the first day of the term two school holidays and I was spending a few days at my best friend’s holiday house. I have been to this house many times and it is one of my favourite places to go.
We were there for a few hours and the whole time there was a bonfire burning in one of the paddocks. My friend, his brother, his brother’s friend and I went out to the bonfire to try and make the flame bigger. We used hay and small sticks to try to spread the fire to the rest of the wood. My friend’s little brother found a jerry can full of petrol and we agreed to use it to spread the fire. It was too heavy for him to do, so I was the one to pour the petrol.
At this point my friend had gone inside and was not there, I picked up the jerry can and went to pour it straight out of the can onto the fire. As I poured it, it was instant regret, I still get the chills when I think about the sound it made. I saw flames right in front of my eyes and instantly dropped the jerry can and ran inside while screaming and hitting my hand and arm to put the fire out. I have never run so fast or screamed that much. As I was sitting with my hand under water, all that I could think was what have I done.
The paramedics arrived and this was quite confronting, as I had never needed them for myself. I was just waiting for my parents who were rushing there from home. Once my parents got there, I had to get into the ambulance. I had been given a green whistle by the paramedics which took away the pains, but not long after having my hand out of water, the pain hit again, it was the most excruciating pain ever.
What do you visit the Burns Unit and Psychology Service for?
As a result of the burn, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for months after the injury, I did not even want to leave my bedroom. I had to come to the RCH every week for months to clean my hand and redress it.
About two weeks after the burn occurred, I had to have a skin graft which was extremely scary because everyone that I knew who has had one said it is one of the most painful parts of the whole process. But with mine it did not hurt, it was just uncomfortable.
During this time, my mental health suffered deeply. I would constantly blame myself for everything bad in my life, have flashbacks of the day and I was barely sleeping. I then had to start seeing the team in the RCH Psychology Service to help with my anger and PTSD.
What has your journey been like at the RCH?
My journey at the RCH was very long, I had countless appointments at the Burns Unit and the Psychology Service.
The most notable experiences were in emergency the day It happened, my first appointment at the burns unit, my surgery, my first appointment after the surgery (which was my first time seeing the skin grafts and was also the first time my hand did not hurt when cleaned and redressed), my appointment with the occupational therapist when I got my garment off and my first Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy session, which specialises with trauma patients.
Everyone at the RCH was so helpful and kind, I am so grateful to everyone who helped me.
Do you have anything to share with other burns victims?
The better you look after your burn, the faster and better it will heal. Because I looked after my burn so well, I only had to wear my compression glove for four months instead of two years.
Do not be afraid to see someone about the mental scarring you might have suffered.