Student's condition still critical
As of late yesterday, College officials reported no change in the condition of the Dartmouth student injured over the weekend in a hotel fire in Nimes, France.
The student, who after initial treatment was transferred to a burn center in Montpelier, France, remains in critical but stable condition. Administrators contacted by The Dartmouth declined to release the student's name, citing medical consent and family privacy concerns.
For patients who sustain serious burn injuries, a lack of change in condition within the first few days is not unusual. Director of Health Services Dr. Jack Turco described that news as "very encouraging," explaining that often, much of the early recovery time is spent in sedation. Doctors must also provide fluids to combat dehydration and watch "very meticulously" for signs of infection.
Three factors can impact the duration of a burn victim's hospital stay: degree, location and spatial extent of the injuries. Though third degree burns, the most severe form, do not allow skin to grow back, a third degree burn confined to a small area might cause less damage than more mild burns spread over a wide area. Additionally, burns sustained on certain body parts are more dangerous than others.
While further information regarding the Dartmouth student's injuries was not released, Turco explained that such cases can often involve hospital stays of four, six and eight weeks.
The specifics of the student's condition will also determine when and whether or not she can be transferred to a facility closer to home. Her father spent yesterday on flights en route to France, according to Dean of the College James Larimore.
Details regarding the fire itself remain sketchy; Larimore said that contact between French authorities and administrators in Hanover had not revealed new information as to the cause of the fire. According to Larimore, reports from France held that a number of hotel residents had climbed onto ledges outside their rooms, suggesting that perhaps the building did not contain sufficiently accessible fire escape routes.
Monday morning brought another day of classes for the injured student's fellow Language Study Abroad participants in Lyons, France.
Program director Andrea Tarnowski updated the students on their classmate's condition at that time.
Thus far the students "appear to be doing relatively well," according to Dean of the College James Larimore. They reacted to the incident with a predictable degree of shock and feel "very, very much concerned with what they can be doing to be supportive." Tarnowski and the LSA participants could not be reached for comment.
For their part, College administrators have worked through Health Services, the Office of Off-Campus Programs and the Dean of the College office to provide Tarnowski with information about on campus resources available to the LSA participants. Tarnowski has also explored counseling options in Lyons.
In a development which Larimore described as "very heartening," the President of the Dartmouth Club of France promptly contacted the LSA group to offer the support of Dartmouth graduates in the area.
"It was a remarkable thing that some of our alumni reached out so quickly," Larimore said. Parents of other students on the program have also contributed to a "terrific outpouring of concern."