March 2021 Burn Bulletin

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March 2021 Burn Bulletin

National Burn Awareness Week 2021

February 7-13, the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF) participated in the National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW). This week, created by our friends at the American Burn Association, is an annual initiative to bring together burn, fire and life safety educators to educate the public about the devastation and causes of burn injuries and the steps you can take to prevent them.

This week’s theme was “Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap!”, where a common risk of injury exists from unprotected electrical outlets, improperly used extension cords, lightning, as well as workplace electrical injuries. These injuries can be caused directly from the electrical source or burns caused by a fire created by an electrical origin.

Electrical Safety is a very important topic, however, in honor of our 50th Anniversary, we expanded on this theme and spent the week highlighting the prevention and survivor services we offer year-round throughout California.

Included in our posts for the week was the unveiling of “Conoce a los Johnsons: Una Familia Segura Contra el Fuego y Quemaduras” (Meet the Johnsons: A Fire and Burn Safe Family)! This edition is the first book in a 5-book series focused on fire and burn prevention for the entire family. To download a copy of this book, visit our website at Watch for the rest of the series with Spanish translations coming soon, as well as, the 5th and final book, showing how the Johnson family prepares for wildfires using AARBF’s P.R.E.P.A.R.E.

Typically, we would find AARBF’s Jennifer Radics-Johnson in Washington DC to help kick off NBAW but this year’s National Leadership Conference, hosted by the American Burn Association, went virtual. As part of the conference, Jennifer was able to meet (virtually) with Senators during the week to increase awareness about burn injuries and burn prevention. Thank you, Jennifer!

AARBF Introduces N.I.C.K. During National Burn Awareness Week

What is N.I.C.K.? The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF), in partnership with Pyramid Educational Consultants, developed the N.I.C.K. (Neurotypical/diverse Independent Communication Kit) for Fire and Burn Safety, to bring fire and burn safety education to individuals with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and communication challenges.

Inspired by Jacqueline Laurita, mother of a son with autism, Nicholas, the goal of the N.I.C.K. for Fire and Burn Safety program is to provide life-saving lessons and burn prevention education to learners with special needs, who are more vulnerable to preventable exposure to danger and are at higher risk for burn injuries. Utilizing the safety messages from AARBF’s “Firefighters in Safety Education” program, the N.I.C.K. Fire and Burn Safety program incorporates a fire and burn prevention picture set from Pyramid’s Pics for PECS images that can be used for expressive communication via the Picture Exchange Communication System® (PECS®) protocol, receptive communication as well as within visual stories and life lessons to help learners understand fire and burn safety. Life-saving safety messages, including get low and go; stop drop and roll; and know two ways out, will now be possible to more effectively teach special needs learners throughout the world thanks to this partnership between AARBF and Pyramid Educational Consultants.

N.I.C.K. is available on our website under the Prevention tab at:

AARBF Launches the Safe and Warm Campaign

Burn Centers and fire departments throughout California are seeing an increased number of patients from the unhoused communities this winter. The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, along with The Midnight Mission in Los Angeles, have partnered together to launch the Safe and Warm campaign, to reduce the number of burn injuries and fires among this community.

The goal of Safe and Warm is to provide prevention education specific to their unique needs. This will be accomplished through handout materials, in both Spanish and English, and community outreach. The most common injuries are caused by candles in tents or flame by butane or propane from cooking.

To learn more, please visit our website at to read the FAQs. Flyers in both Spanish and English are also available for download!

The Central Coast Relay Goes Virtual for National Burn Awareness Week

Each year during National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW), fire agencies in the central valley participate in the AARBF Central Valley Relay. This year we took the Relay virtual and included AARBF’s “Pass the Coin Challenge”.

A special thank you to the following agencies for participating in this year’s relay:

Madera County CAL FIRE, Fresno Fire Department, Clovis Fire Department, Fresno Fire Chief’s Foundation, Fresno County CAL FIRE, City of Sanger Fire Department, Reedley City Fire Department, Selma City Fire Department, Kingsburg Fire Department and Hanford Fire Department!

The Virtual Central Valley Relay raised a total of $14,300! We were also excited to have the addition of the Hanford Fire Department. We are thankful the support and collaboration from these fire agencies and our community partners!

We Want You to Join the #SDRChallenge!

Last month we shared about our Staff, Board and Council learning the Stop, Drop and Roll dance from musical artist and TikTok musical creator Semme. Now it’s your turn to be a part of the fun!

Semme made the announcement about partnering with AARBF during NBAW.  He posted this along with his video:
“Celebrating 50 Years of @aarbf

The entire team at @aarbf have been nothing but supportive and welcoming to me since we got in contact back in November.

We are proud to be partnering with them on our song “Do Dat” (TikTok Resume) in hopes to reach 5 million videos created! We are currently at 2.5 million so we are already half way there!

Calling on you guys to continue helping spreading awareness on Stop Drop & Roll, and what it means to save lives and prepare the future generation to be safe in time of danger.

I want to thank everyone who has been a part so far, and who has supported and continues to support with their talents and contributions.

All love! Semme”

You can find a copy of this video on our new TikTok account. Follow us today at @aarbf. When posting your video, be sure to tag us @aarbf and use the hashtags: #dodat #sdrchallenge #stopdropandroll #aarbf #aarbf50.

AARBF Hosted Its Largest Adult Burn Survivor Retreat!

This year, we took The Retreat, an annual retreat for adult burn survivors, virtual.  It quickly became the largest adult burn survivor retreat we have ever had with 48 survivors registered!

The Retreat was held Tuesday, February 9 through Friday, February 12. Each day covered a different theme. Tuesday was Mindfulness and Self-Care and included topics such as Tapping and Meditation. Wednesday’s theme was Creativity and Connections, focusing on Connecting during COVID. On Thursday, we all got the opportunity to prepare and enjoy a homecooked meal! It was wonderful to be able to connect over dinner, even if it was virtually. While we were cooking, we discussed how certain smells can bring you back to a special place or memory. What are some of your favorite smells that remind you of a happy time? We closed out The Retreat with an Open Mic session where participants could share their trials, accomplishments and successes in a supportive, confidential, and empowering environment.

The Retreat would not have been possible without the help of our lead volunteer Teague, and our other outstanding volunteers; Cindy, James, Lea, Penny, Dana, and Jennifer. We were able to send out boxes full of goodies to all who registered. This took many hours and was not an easy task with so many to assemble. But it seamlessly came together with the help of Daniel, Pradnya, Kelly and Pete.

One of our participants had this to share, “Being a burn survivor has taught me resilience, tenacity, to be thankful each day–even the hard ones–and cherish every breath while I still can.”

AARBF Presents to Community Partner Groups

AARBF’s Resource Development Manager, Erika Mendoza, had the opportunity to make presentations (virtually) about AARBF’s programs and services to three new community partner clubs! On February 18, she presented to the Madera Soroptimist Group and the Rotary Fisherman’s Wharf. For these presentations, Erika was joined by Council Member, Julie Burns, and AARBF’s intern, Pradnya. On February 24, Erika presented to the Madera Sunrise Rotary Club. Pradnya was also able to assist with this presentation!

We greatly appreciated the opportunity to share with these community groups, who live, work and provide service to their communities, about the burn prevention educational materials and burn survivor services we have available. Now when they see a need in their community, they will know where to turn!

If you are a member of a service club or organization and would like an AARBF representative to present to your group, please contact Erika Mendoza at for more information.

AARBF Hosts Virtual Young Adult Summit

We had 28 Survivors participate in the Virtual Young Adult Summit (YAS), February 19-21. Of those, five were new to AARBF trips, ten were first time attendees of YAS, and we had three attending from Canada! We also had 19 volunteers (four from Canada!), and two AARBF staff members. We were so excited to see how, even in a virtual environment, our YAS veterans welcomed our new and Canadian attendees making them instantly feel a part of our community.

For this event, we had a dedicated section on the AARBF website where participants had access to over 20 different videos made by Advisors and Staff! Thank you to AARBF’s Assistant Director, Daniel Chacon, for all of your hard work on this project!

In addition to the pre-recorded videos, we hosted live sessions beginning on Friday with Friday Opening, Young Adult Council Presentation, Games and Hangout time. On Saturday, we had Group Talks and a CIT Conversation, Finance Talk with Russ, and Cooking with Buggy. Sunday’s activities included Banners with Buc, Research with Dr. Ruth and our Closing Ceremonies. All together this was more than16 hours of interactive sessions!

A special thank you to AARBF Board President, Russ Charvonia, for his live session on finance. The young adults had many financial questions answered (and maybe even some of the Counselors!).

This event would not have been possible without our dedicated volunteers. Thank you for your support, time and energy to make this virtual event a huge success! Our volunteers were: Chief, Blondie, Brittany, Brooklyn, Buc, Buggy, Care Bear, Dash, Dr. Ruth, Kamikaze, Kristy, Lil Bear, Monkey, Murray, Pat, Patch, Pookie, Rocks, and Knuckles.

We look forward to the time we can once again be together at Camp Ocean Pines!

Survivors Express Themselves Through Art

In February, we hosted Art Expression, the second of our 3-part Expression Series. The Expression Series is a monthly virtual program designed to help participants learn to express themselves through writing, art and music. Our special guest, Kelly “Sunflower”, guided participants to paint a beautiful cherry blossom tree! As the group painted, Kelly shared how art has helped her through her journey of healing in hopes it will inspire others. We had 28 participants ranging from survivors, to family members and friends, to community partners and volunteers! We love being able to provide opportunities for our burn survivor community to get together for a fun night. A recording of Kelly’s Blossom Tree will be uploaded to our website in the Multimedia Resource Library, under the “Get Creative” section. We hope to see you at the next Art Expression session on Thursday, May 27, at 7:00 PM.

The next topic in our Expression Series is Music Expression on Thursday, March 25, at 7:00 PM. We will have a very special guest – Kechi Okwuchi! Join us as she shares her journey, struggles, and triumphs. Kechi will be live and available to answer questions and provide tips for new singers. Registration is required. To register, please visit

To learn more about our Expression Series and to reserve your space online for any of the upcoming sessions, please visit:

The Fresno Urban Run Returns for 2021!

On Sunday, May 2, 2021, there will be three teams participating in the Fresno Urban Run raising funds for Champ Camp. The teams are Hanford Fire Department Firefighters (Scott Mellon), Fresno City College (FCC) Fire Academy students, and College of the Sequoias (COS) Fire Academy students.

What is the Fresno Urban Run?
Starting inside of Chukchansi Park, they will be put to the challenge of climbing every step from the bottom to the top of the stadium, followed by a run up a 6-story circular garage and then down an adjacent 6-story circular garage, proceeded by a 1 mile run down Fulton Street to the Tuolumne Overpass (Urban Hill), before the final challenge, climbing 220 stairs to the top of a 10-story building, The Grand Tower, where the timing sensor will stop the clock! Overall length of the Urban Run is approximately 3 Miles.  Participants are released to begin one at a time with 3 to 5 seconds between each runner.  First runner will be released at 8:00am.

You can help support these teams and Champ Camp by joining or donating to one (or all) of the teams! It’s easy, simply visit, scroll down to the leaderboard, and click on the join team or donate tab for the team of your choice. You don’t have to run the race to join. By joining you show your support and have the ability to easily share information about the team on your social media to help raise funds! If you have questions or want more information, please contact Erika Mendoza at

AARBF Collaborates with AARP to Bring Burn Safety to Older Adults

In February, AARBF collaborated with AARP to present our Senior Prevention and Risk Conversations (SPARC) program with AARP’s “HomeFit” program. SPARC is a burn prevention program focusing on burn safety for the aging population. The audience of 19 were all AARP volunteers who are committed to outreach programs throughout the state of California.

Presenting on the SPARC speaker’s program was AARBF Board Member and co-founder of the SPARC program, Andrew Mersmann. He really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the participants who were very engaged with many questions and chatter in the chat box!

To their pre-existing learning objectives, we added one new one for this presentation: Look through a fire safety lens to affirm great choices and add new practices and awareness to keep burn-safe at home.

We appreciated working with Grace-Sonia and Sophie of AARP California. Both of our organizations share a passion for the people we serve. We will continue to look for more ways to support each other’s work and opportunities to cross-present important safety messages in the future!

AARBF Talks Kitchen Safety with CBS47!

AARBF’s McKenzie Dern shared important microwave and oven safety tips with MedWatch Today on CBS47 in Central California.

For more burn prevention tips, please visit our website at

Upcoming Events:

March 25: (7:00pm – 8:30pm) Expressive Music with Special Guest Kechi Okwuchi, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or

April 2: Statewide Virtual Animal Adventure 2021, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15.

April 1: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Family and Caregiver Online Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 4: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

April 8: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 13: (6:00pm-7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

April 14: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), North/East Bay Burn Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

April 15: Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation 50th Anniversary

April 15: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Online Video Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 18-24: Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 20: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

April 22: (7:00pm – 8:30pm) Expressive Writing, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or

April 29: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

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.