PERSONAL: Born in NY. Education: Graduated from Barnard College.
CAREER: Science and health writer.
MEMBER: National Association of Science Writers.
George Westinghouse: A Genius for Invention, Raintree-Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1997.
Rachel Carson: Protecting Our Environment, Raintree-Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1997.
K.I.S.S. Guide to Weight Loss, foreword by Kathy Smith, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 2001.
The Everything Calorie Mini Book, Adams Media (Holbrook, MA), 2002.
The Everything Fat Gram Mini Book, Adams Media (Holbrook, MA), 2002.
The Everything Smart Nutrition Mini Book, Adams Media (Holbrook, MA), 2002.
Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
The GI Handbook: How the Glycemic Index Works, Barrons Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Current Health 2 and American Health.
SIDELIGHTS: Science and health writer Barbara Ravage is a veteran of more than twenty-five years of writing on technological and medical subjects. She is the author of a pair of biographies for children, one on inventor and businessman George Westinghouse and another on early environmentalist and conservationist Rachel Carson. She has also written a number of books on nutrition and weight loss, including K.I.S.S. Guide to Weight Loss, The Everything Calorie Mini Book, and The Everything Smart Nutrition Mini Book.
In Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames, Ravage offers a detailed look at the nature of burns and related injuries and the medical challenges posed by treatment and burn therapy. She focuses on the lives of two burn victims who are undergoing treatment at the burn unit of Massachusetts General Hospital. She also profiles the unit's medical personnel and their dedication to providing the highest quality care to persons scorched and immobilized by heat and flame. As Ravage reveals, burn unit care is demanding both physically and psychologically for caregivers who must not only apply the latest medical techniques but who must also pay the psychic toll of watching and treating patients for whom the slightest movement or gentlest touch may result in agonizing pain.
The modern burn unit is a technologically advanced treatment center, offering the latest in state-of-the-art equipment, innovative medical procedures, and sophisticated treatment options. Ravage provides a historical account of the development of modern burn medicine, emergency procedures, and long-term care. Early healers from as long ago as 1534 B.C. used a variety of ointments and concoctions made from animal, vegetable, and mineral substances, as well as magical spells, that may have offered some relief. She traces a number of pivotal points in the development of burn medicine, such as the advances made during times of war.
Ravage also discusses the many new observations and medical advances that resulted from a governmentsponsored burn research program that came to the aid of victims of a fire at Boston's Coconut Grove night club. The 1942 fire killed almost 500 people, but members of the research program were able to provide treatment and see first-hand the effects of burns on human bodies—some obvious, others unseen and, to that point, unknown. "Not only did the expertise of the doctor/researchers mean that many lives were saved, but the challenges they faced and the approaches they developed set the agenda for burn research for the next half century," Ravage commented in an interview posted on her Home page. "Many of the most important treatment and prevention strategies that save lives today grew out of that fire." The Coconut Grove tragedy led to advances in areas such as increased recognition of the importance of inhalation injury; greater understanding of burn shock; more understanding of the metabolic consequences of burn injuries; the use of antibiotics to treat infections in burn wounds; and a greater appreciation of physical and occupational therapy in helping patients recover from burns. Increased public education and fire safety legislation helped create safer environments throughout the country. She examines in-depth the physical effects of burns and describes the latest treatments with antiseptic silver, artificial skin, skin grafts, and silicone film.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Burn Unit a "fascinating and unflinching look behind the scenes" at the Massachusetts General Hospital burn unit, and remarked that "this is an enlightening look at an important area of hospital care." Booklist reviewer Donna Chavez commented favorably on the "sensitive, sometimes graphic portrayals" of the book's two point-of-view burn victims, as well as on the "moving portraits of burn unit staffers." Ravage "gives readers an intensive course on burns and burn therapy," stated James Swanton in Library Journal, calling the book a "riveting and unforgettable account" of burn medicine, history, and therapy.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2004, Donna Chavez, review of Burn Unit: Savings Lives after the Flames, p. 1533.
Library Journal, May 1, 2004, James Swanton, review of Burn Unit, p. 134.
New York Times, August 24, 2004, John Langone, review of Burn Unit, p. F7.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 2004, review of Burn Unit, p. 55.
Barbara Ravage Home Page, http://www.barbararavage.com (November 18, 2004), "Barbara Ravage."
Curled up with a Good Book Website, http://www.curledup.com/ (November 18, 2004), Joyce Faulkner, review of Burn Unit.*