Perth burns expert Fiona Wood is steering a new multimilliondollar research project that could help revolutionise the treatment of burns.
The program includes groundbreaking technology such as a cell repair solution with magnetic nanoparticles that could be applied directly to the wound to reduce nerve damage and scarring.
First-aid therapies being investigated include a handheld device for use for burns and at mass disasters to gauge if a patient needed to be put on a ventilator.
The Fiona Wood Foundation project is funded by resources giant Chevron Australia and while it will help improve first aid in workplaces, it is also expected to help burns survivors globally.
Professor Wood said the three-year partnership would include cutting-edge research and improved emergency responses.
"The first 24 to 48 hours are critical and this will give tools to our first-line responders so they can respond with a level of accuracy that's never been done before," she said.
She said burns could cause swelling in the airway and result in a person losing their ability to breathe, so any burns injury in remote and rural areas of WA was considered a disaster situation.
"The ultimate goal is to have a mobile handheld device that we can just slip down the nose to see exactly how much swelling is there so we know whether to put a tube down," Professor Wood said.
"You might say 'put a tube down everyone' but you can't do that and nothing in medicine is without risk so it's much better not to unless you really have to."
Other research would look at reducing swelling in cells in the acute treatment phase because burnt skin was no longer waterproof, causing big fluid shifts.
Professor Wood said the project would take first aid and burns management to the next level.
Chevron's health, environment and safety general manager Rhonda Yoder said the research would help regions where the company operated and included a community education program to teach burns prevention and improve first aid responses.