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International Burn Survivor Gathering Focuses on Need for More Long-Term Recovery Services

Indianapolis, IN (October 2015)– A severe burn can be one of the most painful injuries that a human body can suffer, both physically and emotionally. For many families, the difficulty in finding access to long-term support services can add to their burden as they work to heal the physical and emotional scars. As survival rates climb over 96% (American Burn Association) in U.S. Burn Centers, there is a greater need for long-term recovery services to meet the physical and emotional needs of burn survivors and their families. This is the message that more than 900 burn survivors and their families, caregivers, burn care professionals and firefighters will share with the world at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivor’s 27th annual Phoenix World Burn Congress on October 21 to 24 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Phoenix Society has been leading the way to change this reality. Since 1977, the Phoenix Society has provided crucial information, resources and peer support to those impacted by burn injuries so they can live full, happy and productive lives. Recent research supports the positive impact that long-term recovery resources and social support have on the outcomes for burn survivors. Imagine being the only child in school or the only family in town who has experienced a burn injury. Phoenix Society works closely with allied organizations, health care professionals and the fire industry to develop and provide long-term recovery and support programs across North America.

One example of evolution in the area of long-term recovery programming is the growth of Phoenix SOAR, an acronym for Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery, the Phoenix Society’s hospital-based peer support program. Phoenix SOAR was developed and introduced in hospitals just over 10 years ago. Our lead sponsors were some of the first to implement this hospital-based program in Indiana, joining 64 other centers across the country that are now providing critical programming supporting long-term recovery of thousands.

Twenty to thirty years ago, those like Abby Fisk, who was injured in 2008, most likely would not have survived. With improved medical care provided by burn centers she did survive. Abby was severely burned when she tripped and fell into hot ashes while throwing sticks into a burn pile on the family farm. Abby sustained third degree burns on her feet, ankles and calves and second degree burns on her hands. The month long hospital stay, which included full thickness skin grafts taken from her back, was only the beginning of the healing process.

Abby struggled with depression and acceptance of her own body. For Janine and Doug, Abby’s parents, it was difficult to see their happy, social child become sullen and withdrawn. Abby and her mom first attended Phoenix World Burn Congress in 2014 and it transformed their recovery. “It showed me that I wasn’t alone in dealing with the physical scars and the emotional challenges of fitting in with other teens,” says Abby. “We (the other teen burn survivors) created instant bonds and became lifelong friends. It’s nice to know I have others to turn to who truly understand.”

“The survivor community is committed to ensuring that every burn survivor and their loved ones have the necessary support and resources they need to recover and live their lives to the fullest,” said Amy Acton, executive director, Phoenix Society. “We have worked to support individual survivors and families and have built
partnerships with the burn centers, fire service and community leaders to make lasting change—not just here in
Indiana but throughout the country. Our experience working with families who have suffered and are surviving devastating burn injuries has strengthened our resolve to continue to improve access to these types of resources
throughout the country—because ‘survival is not enough.’”

Phoenix World Burn Congress is one of the most important events of the year for burn survivors and their families. It is an opportunity to share experiences, increase knowledge about recovery and learn about the growing burn support network.

This year’s lead sponsors include Eskenazi Health, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, and Tyco.

“While we can provide excellent medical care in the hospital to save a burn victim’s life, the emotional and social support they receive after they are discharged makes a significant difference in their recovery,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health and the pediatric Speedway Burn Center at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. “Phoenix World Burn Congress provides a venue where burn survivors can regain their confidence and obtain valuable education and resources to help them heal.”

“Riley at IU Health looks forward to welcoming Phoenix World Burn Congress,“ said Dr. Paul Haut, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health interim president and chief medical officer. “As Indiana’s only pediatric burn center, our team of physicians, nurses, child life therapists and others, led by Dr. Sood, places priority on both physical and emotional healing. We recognize that the Congress is a significant event that helps patients and their families with the journey of recovery.”

“Our commitment to the Phoenix Society and its Phoenix World Burn Congress is one of our most valued partnerships,” said Art Jones, Tyco’s Vice President, Global Public Affairs. “Tyco’s core work involves providing products and systems to save lives and property from fires, therefore we are proud to support burn survivors and their families in their recovery and proud to share their inspiring messages of hope.“

Indianapolis Fire Department will be serving the conference as the host fire service agency assisting with conference logistics including coordinating Indianapolis fire personnel to personally welcome survivors and their families at the local airport.

“The Indianapolis Fire Department is pleased to welcome Phoenix World Burn Congress to our city. As firefighters, the opportunity to connect on an individual level with burn survivors and those who continue to recover from burn injuries is a gift that reiterates why we serve our community 24/7 – 365,” stated Chief Ernest Malone of the Indianapolis Fire Department. “’Our Family Serving Your Family’ is an unwavering commitment on behalf of the
men and women of the IFD whose mission to save lives and protect property is more than just a job—it is personal.

During the four-day conference, sessions will cover topics ranging from social challenges such as dealing with anxiety and psychological pain after hospital discharge to a young adult program helping survivors ages 18 to 25 build confidence, foster personal growth and enhance communication skills. A special youth and family program for children 7 to 17 years old will help family members learn how a burn injury impacts the entire family. Burn survivors can also attend a private creative cosmetics and color analysis consultation. In addition, survivors can gain knowledge about advocacy roles to raise awareness about burn prevention programs. A special Walk of Remembrance will be held October 21, 2015 to pay tribute to the lives lost from burn injury.

For more information, or to view a copy of the program brochure including the workshops, bios and schedule of events, visit

Connect with us at:

Twitter: @psburnsurvivors, #phoenixwbc

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Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors - People who suffer burn injuries often have a challenging time getting back to living. Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors helps them do exactly that. Since 1977, the Phoenix Society has worked with survivors, families, healthcare professionals, firefighters and donors to support burn recovery, improve the quality of burn care and prevent burn injuries. We are the only national non-profit organization helping survivors meet their challenges with the community support and the tools they need to thrive again. Phoenix Society, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes its name from the legendary bird that is consumed by flame but rises again, more vibrant than before. To learn more, visit