Blog Material Written By: Corey Edmonds, MPH, CHES, Community Health Worker
We participate in risky activities every day in nearly everything that we do. Some of these activities are essential to be able to sustain life and our environment here on earth, but many of them are activities that are not necessarily essential. Moreover, this means that many of the injuries that human beings suffer from trauma and accidental mishaps are easily preventable simply by refraining from participation in said activities. However, life and society as we know it today make many of these same activities too darn convenient not to participate in. Take driving a car, for example. We have to go places. Life wasn’t meant to be lived in one place. Thanks to modern engineering and ingenuity, we put ourselves in a metal and plastic box on four wheels and routinely zoom around at speeds of up to 70 or 80 miles per hour – in any type of environmental and weather conditions. The slightest slip-up or mistake could be devastating. Yet, we do it anyway – every day, without giving it as much as a second thought. Trauma and injury prevention isn’t about advocating for people to avoid all of the inherently dangerous activities that we participate in, but rather about encouraging everyone to stop, think, take necessary precautions, and participate in these activities in a manner that is as safe and as enjoyable as possible.
Unintentional and traumatic injuries are the fourth-leading cause of death among all causes among people of all ages in the United States and are the leading cause of death in young people.1, 2 “Trauma accounts for over 150,000 U.S. deaths and more than 3 million nonfatal injuries yearly, in some cases leading to a permanent quality-of-life decline and years of lost productivity.”1 Unintentional injury and trauma doesn’t just include injuries sustained from vehicle accidents but also includes those occurring from: falls, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents, boating accidents, crushing accidents, burns, violent acts (gunshot wounds, stabbings, assault), sports injuries, accidental explosions, being hit by a car or other moving vehicle, drownings, and suicide attempts. I, personally, have worked for many years in trauma intensive care units and emergency departments in hospitals local to areas where I have lived. I have seen all of the aforementioned situations – and many more – play out in real life right before my eyes. I can tell you without the slightest sense of doubt or hesitation that I hope I never find myself in any of those situations, and I would certainly never wish anything of the sort on anyone else. To say that these scenes are gruesome and heart-wrenching would indeed be an understatement. The fact that almost all of them are pretty easily preventable just makes it that much harder to swallow.
Whether it is in our home and remote-work life, outdoors and recreation, work, and transportation, or in taking care of ourselves in our day-to-day lives, trauma, and unintentional injuries can be prevented – and so can the loss and tragedy that all too often accompanies such an occurrence. Wear those seatbelts, helmets, and life jackets. Look both ways before crossing the street and always use crosswalks and traffic signals when possible. Put the cell phone down and pay full attention to what you and those around you are doing. Don’t drink or use mind-altering substances while driving or operating any sort of vehicle or machinery. Read the directions carefully before using equipment or machinery and ensure regular maintenance is performed on time and as suggested by the manufacturer. Always be aware of your surroundings and learn how to defend yourself against acts of violence. Above all – if it sounds foolish and dangerous to do, DON’T DO IT!!! As the Society of Trauma Nurses recommends, remember: Safety Is a Choice. Prevention Is Key. The loss of life just isn’t worth it.
For an interactive trauma prevention resource geared towards children and adolescents, visit the following site (it’s Canadian-based, but the subject matter is every bit as appropriate): https://www.codetrauma.com/