In Burn News

Southern Region Burn Conference History

In 1985, the American Burn Association (ABA) established 10 regions in the United States. These regions were patterned after the same regions the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma have for their regional organization. Region IV (the southeastern region) comprised eight states: North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Additions to the area from 2005 and 2011 brought the total to 15 states for the Southern region with a total of 35 burn centers.

The initial charge to the regions was to develop disaster plans specific to that region. A regional director was appointed in each region to be the official representative of the ABA and was charged with the responsibility of facilitating the development of the regional disaster plan.

In 1987, a group of southeastern burn directors decided to have an annual regional burn conference that would provide educational programs for all members of their burn teams. Such a regional conference was needed because many burn team members could not attend the annual meeting of the ABA. Also, the transportation costs to a regional meeting were much less than to attend the ABA annual meeting.

The format of the meeting is a critical part of the conference. Abstracts are solicited from each burn center in the region, and these abstracts form the basis for the meeting. This results in each burn center being an integral part of the program. These abstracts may be final oral presentations but may also be a work in progress or a “how I do it.” Informality for the meeting is stressed. Oral presentations are limited to 10 minutes with 5 minutes for discussion. This arrangement allows each member of the burn team the opportunity to present to a “friendly” group and also allows the presentations to be improved for presentation at the ABA annual meeting. Abstracts from the burn centers in the region are given priority, but abstracts from outside the region are accepted to complete the program. These abstracts are not published because that would not allow them to be submitted to the ABA annual meeting.

It was decided to hold the meeting on a weekend to have minimal effect on the staffing of the burn centers. Therefore, the meetings are held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Another decision was to rotate the conference every year, so each burn center in the region could host the conference. This change of venue allows attendees to tour the local burn center that hosts the conference.

This is considered important, because a significant number of all burn teams are relatively new, and it would be educational for the attendees to tour the local burn center. Because the cities hosting the conference are all in the region, it is possible for multiple burn team members to travel together to minimize travel expenses. Beginning with the fourth conference, industry exhibits have been a part of the meeting each year.

The first three meetings were organized by the burn director hosting the conference. However, because of the complexity of the meeting and the need to plan the meeting several years in advance, Dr. Alan Dimick was commissioned by the directors to talk with the Southern Medical Association (SMA) about managing our meeting. The SMA, which is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, managed many medical meetings at many locations and was well equipped to manage our conference. In addition, they were accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education. This resulted in the SMA handling all arrangements for our annual conference.

There are several unique programs associated with the conference, which have evolved over the years. On Thursday, prior to the start of the program, there is a Rehab Workshop with the focus on burns. Attendees listen to didactic lectures and then breakout into a hands-on workshop. The directors felt this was an important educational opportunity for our burn therapists. There is a Pediatric Session that takes place on Thursday before the start of the conference. There is usually a Nursing Session that takes place on Thursday before the start of the conference. This session deals with different aspects of Nursing as it relates to burn care. To continue to support the therapy and nursing attendees, an oral presentation session for each was added on Friday afternoon. This provides a more open forum for each group to discuss items directly related to them and how they practice and care for patients. These programs have been well attended, and evaluations of them have been very favorable.

In honor of Alan R. Dimick, MD, who was the driving force behind the organization of this group, a special lecture, The “Dimick Lecture”, was added to the program each year. The host burn center is responsible for inviting the guest speaker for the lecture.

Each year, the ABA President makes a presentation to the conference concerning the organization and activities of the ABA. This presentation has stimulated membership in the ABA and improves the understanding of what the ABA is doing for its members.

A director’s business luncheon is held at noon on Saturday and is chaired by the regional director. All aspects of the program are discussed, including decisions on future meeting sites and other items of interest. Industry exhibitors are invited to attend this luncheon.

Attendance at the conference has steadily increased each year since the inception. There are now 250-300 diverse attendees who support the conference each year along with 35-40 exhibitors and sponsors.

The meeting this year takes place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, October 10-13, 2024. The headquarters hotel will be the Marriott Winston-Salem with all events taking place at the Benton Convention Center. Our Regional Chair, James H. Holmes IV, MD, FACS, and his Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Burn Center team will be our host. For more information, visit