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Burn Camp Staff Lend a Hand to Ecuadorian Firefighters

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Jun 29, 2010 9:00 AM

Equadorian firefighters participated in Camp Nah-Nah-Mah to learn how to create a similiar program for burn patients in their home country. For more information on University of Utah Health Care┬┐s annual Burn Camp, visit

University of Utah Health Care’s annual Burn Camp is extending a hand of hope, recovery, and strength to help burn survivors in other countries realize that their strength is not defined by their scars. 

Olga Briz is a firefighter from Guayaquil, Equador. Because there isn’t as much public education on burn safety, severe burns are common in Equador. Briz, and her colleague Fernando Aiyala traveled to Utah to be a part of Camp Nah-Nah-Mah, an annual summer camp for burn patients ages 6 to 12, in hopes of recreating a similar program in their home country. 

Brad Wiggins, R.N., clinical nurse coordinator for University Hospital’s Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit, has been the lead Burn Camp coordinator since it was founded in 1993. Most campers are former patients looking for a safe, uplifting place to mingle with other survivors. Many of the camp counselors are Brad’s fellow Burn ICU staff members. 

Wiggins said he was thrilled that Equadorians were interested in Burn Camp. “Burns are an endless worldwide problem,” Wiggins said. “There are kids everywhere who need to learn how to go from burn victims to burn survivors.” The Equadorian firefighters participated in all the activities that the campers did, including crafts, swimming, hiking, even staying in the same cabins. “It’s incredible how much we’ve learned from the kids and the counselors,” Briz said. “They can pass through a healing process here. They can swim in the sun without worrying about their scars.” 

Briz and Aiyala will face some unique challenges to organizing a similar camp in Equador. But Wiggins is looking forward to keeping in touch and offering support.

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