March 2020 Burn Bulletin

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March 2020 Burn Bulletin

With updates about COVID-19 rapidly changing, we will update this document as needed. 3/17/2020

The safety and wellness of the burn survivors, families, staff, volunteers and community partners with whom we work with are of the highest importance to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. With the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) into communities throughout California and the US, we want to assure you that COVID-19 does not pose an immediate concern for our camps and programs. In accordance with recommendations from federal and local public health agencies, all in-person AARBF activities and events will be on pause through April 6, 2020. Currently we require temperature and health screenings prior to attending Champ Camp, but we are also working on an emergency operations plan, including a communicable disease plan, for all of our camps and programs. We will work with our local health officials to collaborate, share information and review plans to help protect our community.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, or a respiratory virus that infects animals and humans. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

How do I prevent getting COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus spreads easily via droplet when a sick person coughs or sneezes within a 6-foot range of others. There are ways to prevent becoming sick with COVID-19 including:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean surfaces every day (examples: counters, tabletops, doorknobs, toilets, phones, etc.)
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals, if you are sick

What if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are sick with COVID-19, or suspect you are infected with COVID-19, follow the steps on how to prevent getting COVID-19 in order to prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

What are some special considerations for burn survivors and the COVID-19?

Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. In an acute phase, burns damage the skin’s protective barrier, meaning bacteria and other foreign invaders can sneak in. Also in an acute phase, burns weaken the immune system, so the body is less able to fight off threats. If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19?


We are monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control on updates on the spread of the coronavirus, as well as for information on how to prevent the virus. We will share timely information with you regarding any possible program cancellations or additional precautions we will be taking to ensure the safety of our program participants. If you have any concerns or have questions about the ways AARBF is dealing with COVID-19, please contact Jennifer Radics-Johnson, Executive Director, at (818) 848-0223 ext. 12 or at

AARBF Recognizes National Burn Awareness Week

Each year, on the first full week of February, we observe National Burn Awareness Week. This year’s focus was on Contact Burns. Throughout the week, we posted prevention tips on topics including hot pavement, hair-styling tools, fireplace glass doors, and cooking safety. It is important to know that a burn injury can be caused by several sources, not just fire. In addition to our prevention posts, our staff had a very busy week. From a burn symposium in Washington D.C. to a prevention workshop in Oregon, as well as, a Firefighters Relay in the Central Valley! Look for these stories and more in this edition of the Burn Bulletin!

AARBF Attends American Burn Association Symposium in Washington, D.C.

As a kick-off to Burn Awareness Week, AARBF’s Jennifer Radics-Johnson attended the American Burn Association’s Burn Prevention Summit in Washington D.C. on February 3-4, 2020. The purpose of this Summit was to develop and publish a framework of best practice consensus for burn prevention programming to: 1) Assist burn center and burn support organizations to enhance their burn prevention education activities and programs; and 2) Create guidelines to elevate the consistency, reach, quality, and effectiveness of burn prevention activities across the US.

We appreciated having the opportunity to have a “seat at the table” with burn community representatives from throughout the country. Not only do we strive to provide the best education and services for our state, we want to help ensure other organizations have the tools they need to do the same.

AARBF Presents the BeSafe Tool at Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop

National Burn Awareness Week was a busy time for Jennifer Radics-Johnson! After attending the Burn Symposium in Washington D.C., she joined Daniel Chacon in Oregon where they presented the BeSafe Tool at the Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop on February 5, 2020. We appreciate the opportunity for Jennifer and Daniel to share this important prevention component! The Behavioral Evaluation and Safety Assessment for Fire Education Tool (BeSafe Tool) is a tool that can easily be used by the fire service and fire safety advocates to evaluate their existing programs’ effectiveness in creating behavioral change, or that could also be applied to any new programs they may create. To learn more about the BeSafe Tool or to download the BeSafe Tool, visit our website at to learn more.

More than $70,000 Raised at 2020 Central Valley Firefighters Burn Relay

AARBF’s Erika Mendoza and McKenzie Dern joined the Central Valley fire stations as they held their Annual Central Valley Relay to promote Burn Awareness Week and show their support for AARBF. The Central Valley Firefighters Burn Relay was held February 6, 2020. The Relay visited eight fire stations where Erika and McKenzie were able to acknowledge and thank the firefighters for their part in raising over $70,000 during the last year! This total included an additional donation from the Fresno Fire Chiefs Foundation for $8,000. The funds raised are for burn prevention and burn survivor services.

A huge thank you to all of the participating fire departments, including: Madera County Fire Department, Clovis Fire Department, Sanger Fire Department, CAL Fire, Reedley Fire Department, Kingsburg Fire Department, Selma Fire Department, and Fresno Fire Department.

We also want to give a special shout-out to CHP officers Shasta Tollefson and Pieter Peruch of the CHP Central Division for escorting the relay vehicles.

Thank you again for your generous donations, helping us with our commitment to provide burn prevention education and burn survivor support in the Central Valley and throughout the state of California!

Sharing the Benefits of Burn Camps at the American Camp

AARBF’s Daniel Chacon attended the American Camp Association National Conference in San Diego, CA from February 11-14. He participated in two important components of the conference. Daniel was part of the Ignite Medical Camp Research Panel and he also presented the benefits of burn camps with a poster presentation. Daniel had an awesome time seeing friends from Wonder Valley Resort and River Way Ranch Camp, as well as, spending time with past Champ Camp Director, Deanne “Pali” Repetto.

AARBF would like to thank American Camp Association for accepting our proposal and allowing us to be a part of this year’s ACA National Conference. We also extend a special thank you to Dr. Ruth Rimmer for all her work to make this possible and for conducting great research with AARBF.

AARBF Welcomed 31 Burn Survivors to Young Adult Summit 2020

Over the President’s Day weekend, the Young Adult Summit hosted 31 burn survivors, between the ages of 16 to 20. Activities included workshops on Finances, Taxes, Vaping, Health, Mental Health and Body Image, Monkeys Minutes, Credit, The Big Game of Life. They also enjoyed a four-course etiquette dinner with each young adult giving a toast for what they are grateful for.  As well as trip to the beach and Hearst Castle! We were only able to get all this accomplished with our fabulous volunteers: Chief, Buggy, Brooklyn, Dash, Patch, Kamikaze, Pookie, Blondie, Buc, Zinger, Monkey, Butterbean, Carebear, Knuckles and our guest counselors Kristey and Brittany from Canada, and Jerry and Chris from Chicago. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Hearst Castle, Luann and Camp Ocean Pines. As well as Buggy and her family for an amazing meal and all of the preparation and work that goes into that.

The Retreat

Also held over the President’s Day weekend is The Retreat, an intensive weekend, developed by burn survivors for burn survivors. The Retreat welcomed 22 burn survivors this year. Activities included workshops on Body Image, Tapping, Meditation, Art and Creativity, and Workplace Accommodations. We also took a trip to the beach and downtown Cambria! This could not have happened without our wonderful volunteers: Teague, Dana, Penny, James, Cindy, “Knuckles”, Lea and Monica. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Jeff for providing sweatshirts for The Retreat.

FUNdraising at the Crab Feed

On February 15, the Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171 hosted their 11th Annual Crab Feed benefiting the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. The Santa Clara Firefighters have graciously supported us, not only through this fundraiser but through volunteerism as well! Over the past 11 years, they have raised and donated more than $23,000. We know a lot of hard work, time and effort is put into this event, and we cannot express how much we appreciate this fun event and look forward to it every year! Thank you again for all you do for us!

Burn Survivor Working to Achieve Gold Award

On December 16, 2019, we shared the story of Danielle Alcazar on our Facebook and Instagram. Danielle is a burn survivor and girl scout working on her Gold Award to supply books along with laptops and a charging rack to the LAC+USC hospital, where she was treated many years ago.

Danielle’s original desire was to work with the Burn Unit at LAC+USC on her Gold Award project however they declined and referred her to Pediatrics. Inspired by Danielle’s project, AARBF asked Danielle if we could assist her with donating to the Burn Unit. Through the good work of our Regional Manager, Margarita Rodriguez, we received the green light from the Burn Unit, and Danielle was able to make the donation of three laptops! The laptops will be utilized by the burn unit patients and interns.

Danielle’s work is still ongoing! Her goal is to collect 20 HP Chromebooks, 100 new children’s books (including 20 in Spanish) and one book cart charging station for the hospital. Donations of funds to purchase the items or donations of the Chromebooks and reading books are accepted. Danielle wants donors to know that, “No donation is too small and no donation is too large.”

If you are interested in supporting Danielle achieve her Gold Award please email us at We look forward to seeing Danielle receive her Gold Award!

Center Stage with the BeSafe Tool

AARBF’s Daniel Chacon had a very busy month presenting throughout the country on AARBF’s BeSafe Tool. At the beginning of the month we found him in Oregon and on February 17-20, 2020, he was in Tennessee at the Fire Prevention Vision 20/20 Symposium 6. We are grateful for the opportunity to share this tool with prevention professionals throughout the United States. Keep up the good work, Daniel!

San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation Gala

On February 22, 2020, AARBF’s Scott Wertz along with burn survivors and AARBF supporters, attended the annual San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation (SJFBF) Gala. The Gala is a wonderful event and we always look forward to attending and supporting the SJFBF. Scott was able to speak at the event and share our appreciation to SJFBF. It was a fun-filled night with dancing, both live and silent auctions and an excellent dinner!

Firefighters in Safety Education at North Central Fire Department

In February, we hosted training classes for 40 North Central Firefighters on how to present AARBF’s Firefighters in Safety Education (FISE) in schools within Kerman Unified School District. This training took place at the North Central Headquarters and North Central Fire Station #58. FISE is a safety curriculum focused on K-6th grade. The Firefighters not only learned about how to present the program but also the importance of teaching children about fire safety.

We appreciate these Firefighters taking time out of their day to come to the training. We are inspired by their eagerness to get started presenting the program and their willingness to make a difference in the lives of children.

We’d also like to say a HUGE Thank You to Andy “Brooklyn” Isolano and Gerald Reeser for helping with the presentation and for coordinating the crews.

Erika Mendoza Shares Her Burn Survivor Journey at Fig Garden Rotary

On Friday, February 28, AARBF’s Erika Mendoza spoke at the Fig Garden Rotary meeting in Fresno, CA. She presented information about Champ Camp and her personal burn survivor journey including her life-long relationship with AARBF. The Rotary members were full of questions and it made for a lively talk!

A special thank you to Ron Johnson (Fig Garden Rotary Past President) for inviting Erika to speak and to the Fig Garden Rotary Club members for their support of AARBF and Champ Camp! Great job Erika!

Volunteer Opportunities:

Northern California Volunteer Opportunities

  • Each year, AARBF partners with the San Francisco Fire Department to educate thousands of kids in fire and burn prevention. This program also entails pre- and post- tests to track learning. We need help pairing students’ pre- and post- tests and scanning them so that they can be graded by a computer program and analyzed by a statistician.
  • General office administrative tasks such as printing, filing, mailings, data entry, organization, etc. Please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 for more details.
  • Central California Volunteer Opportunities
  • Please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 if you have interest in volunteering for the following:
    • We are always looking for volunteers to help spread burn prevention education in their local community at outreach events!
  • Southern California Volunteer Opportunities
  • Please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 x16 if you have interest in any of the following:
    • We are always looking for volunteers to help spread burn prevention education in their local community at outreach events!
  • Please contact Jan “Tabby” Share at or 818-848-0223 if you have interest in any of the following:
    • We have an opportunity to assist as a volunteer in our Pasadena office with administrative duties such as filing.
  • Statewide Volunteer Opportunities
    • Do you enjoy data management, input and/or making calls to our amazing volunteers and community partners? We are in need of a volunteer to assist us in staying up to date with contact information for volunteers, donors, and community partners (such as fire departments). Please contact Erika “Kika” Mendoza at or 559-286-0710 ext. 17 for more details.
    • Have you ever wanted to serve on a Committee? AARBF is looking for volunteers for our Burn Prevention Committee, Communications Committee and 50th Anniversary Committee. Please contact Jennifer Radics-Johnson at or 818-848-0223 ext. 12 for more details.

Upcoming Events:

April 1: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.

April 2: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Family and Caregiver Online Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or with any questions or to RSVP.

April 4-5: Monterey Bay Aquarium Trip, this is an overnight activity, space is limited, must register by Friday, March 14, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.

April 5: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 with any questions.

April 7: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.

April 8: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Santa Rosa Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.

April 9: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Modesto Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.

April 14: (6:00pm-7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 with any questions.

April 15: AARBF 49th Anniversary

April 16: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Online Video Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or with any questions or to RSVP.

April 18: Southern California Zoopendous Night, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 with any questions.

April 18: Southern California Burn Relay, contact Jan “Tabby” Share at or 818-848-0296 with any questions.

April 19-25: Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 21: Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 with any questions.

April 30: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 with any questions.

If you missed any of our past Burn Bulletins, please check out our archives.

Just a reminder to go to; click on Upcoming Events, for the latest AARBF events and activities that need your support.