Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teen Driver Safety Week

During Teen Driver Safety Week, Discuss the “5 to Drive”

For many teenagers, getting a driver’s license is an important rite of passage. For parents, however, it can be a time of concern.

It’s no small matter to hand the keys of a two-ton vehicle over to a son or daughter who not that long ago was having their training wheels taken off their bike. It’s particularly worrying when you know that motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of 14- to 18-year-olds. 
In 2012, there were 2,055 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, and 859 (42 percent) of those teen drivers were killed in the crashes.

But rather than worry, be ready: use Teen Driver Safety Week, which starts on Sunday and runs through October 25, as a time to set some ground rules. We call these rules the “5 to Drive,” and they might just save your child’s life. We’re asking parents and guardians to discuss these five basic rules for safe teen driving:

·         No cell phone use or texting while driving
·         No extra passengers
·         No speeding
·         No alcohol
·         No driving or riding without a seat belt

We need parents to discuss the “5 to Drive” with their young driver because these dangerous driving behaviors are what is claiming young lives on America’s roadways. We need teens to take these rules seriously. That will only happen if parents establish these ground rules with their children—and back them up with a zero-tolerance policy. Unsafe driving means no driving. That’s a promise you should make to your child because it’s a promise that will keep them safe and that they will take seriously. After all, no teen with a driver’s license wants to end up back on the school bus because mom or dad took away the car keys.

Whether it’s drunk or distracted driving, not wearing seat belts, or speeding, we need to redouble our efforts to help our nation's young people make the right choices—as drivers and passengers. So let’s get the safety conversation started. Use the “5 to Drive” and set the rules before your teens hit the road.  And then keep the conversation going.
Adults, control the keys. “5 to Drive” is a message that needs to be reinforced again and again.

- David Friedman, Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fire Safety Saves Kids' Lives by Pamela Elliott

Life-saving fire sprinklers should be more prevalent

While on my flight to speak at a fire safety event, an article caught my attention. It was titled “U.S Requires New Cars to Have Backup Cameras.” My first thought was there must be a huge problem if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requiring new cars to have backup cameras. Then I was somewhat surprised to read that there are nearly 210 backover deaths each year. About a third of those deaths are children, and many of these accidents are caused by parents. The article stated that rear-facing cameras would save between 59 and 69 deaths a year.

By contrast, the United States Fire Administration reports that fire kills 3,400 and injures 17,500 people each year. I was burned as a young child in a house fire. As such, I am acutely aware of the number of people who needlessly die or are injured in fires.

I sat on that flight with many mixed feelings. As a fire safety advocate, I’m excited any time a safety measure that will save even just one life is enacted. However, as a burn survivor, I felt frustrated and angry that similar safety measures haven’t been implemented in homes to prevent fires. What makes me even angrier is that the technology to prevent these deaths and injuries exists—they're called fire sprinklers. It’s taken quite a few decades to install them in new homes at a very slow rate.

NHTSA is to be highly commended and applauded for their public safety efforts. Since its inception, seatbelts have saved 280,000 lives and air bags have saved 28,000 lives. Now another safety device will be added to cars to prevent even more deaths.

Because of my past, I investigated how many children die in fires. I looked at the FEMA report “Fire Risk to Children 2010.” In 2010, 357 children died in fires. That’s about five times more children than those killed in backover deaths annually. The children most likely to die or be injured are newborns through age four -- those who can’t escape by themselves. If those statistics don’t grab at your heartstrings, I don’t know what would.

Anthony Foxx, United States Secretary of Transportation, said in the article, “Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents—our children and seniors. As a father, I can only imagine how heart-wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today’s rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”

Sometimes when children die in fires, no body is found. I can’t imagine having to bury a child, but I certainly can’t comprehend not having a body to bury. 

According to the FEMA report, 87% of fire-related casualties to children occurred in homes. That’s 87% of 357 children — 310 children who die in their own homes. We have the capability of saving 310 children a year. The technology exists — it’s a scientific fact that fire sprinklers save lives, reduce property loss and decrease injuries.

There’s no way to comprehend the devastating effects of burn trauma unless it happens to you or a family member. Why do we wait for a horrific event that warrants litigation before we’re compelled to change? Unless prevention becomes the highest priority of the fire service and its advocates, we can expect to continue to see these horrific statistics; this makes me very sad and irate at the same time.

I can only hope that comparing these statistics will somehow motivate fellow safety advocates and the fire service to take action. We need to stand united in the message that fire sprinklers save the lives of both citizens and firefighters.

- Pamela Elliott, RN and fire survivor

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Are we prepared for injured kids?

How many of you are parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents with children around you?

We all know that illnesses and injuries are going to happen even with the best prevention and care. The CDC reports that North Carolina has higher than average death rates for injured children. Patient-related injury accounts for the highest death rate among children birth to 19 years old in North Carolina. Currently, there are only 124 pediatric intensive care beds in the state to care for those children and very few of them are vendor specialized pediatric intensive care beds. Therefore, there are very few special care beds for children in the state with dedicated physicians and nurses to take care of those patients. 
To help explain the issue from the medical professional’s perspective, we wanted to share a few numbers and ask some questions.
  • What percentage of EMS calls involve kids?  5%
  • What percentage of medical education time is typically devoted to trauma for children? LESS THAN 5%
The critically-injured pediatric patient produces more anxiety in caregivers because there is a lack of preparedness. We have found that when medical personnel are properly trained, children’s lives are saved. Unfortunately, budget cuts and financial restrictions result in many hospitals, EMS agencies and medical caregivers focusing on general training for continuing education instead of specialized courses for treating critically injured children.
  • How comfortable would you feel caring for a child in an emergency?
The bottom line is that we all feel unprepared to care for injured kids because we don't care for them that often. When an emergency occurs, there is no time to travel long distances for care. We have to trust that the people caring for our children are prepared and know the best way to save and care for them, but more can be done to help support and prepare these first responders and emergency care providers. That is why we deliver evidence-based care for providers at all levels – from EMTs to nurses and physicians.
  • How many of you watch reality TV?
  • How many of you have been on a plane before? 
Simulation is reality-based learning – training in situations that are very close to reality. The aviation industry has used simulation technology for years by using flight simulation for pilot’s initial and ongoing training.  Experience shows you will react the way you are trained.
Simulators make learning fun and interactive. In recent years technology has allowed us to take advanced patient simulation into the classroom. Now we can go to the smaller hospitals, the EMS agencies, or the classroom and take this simulation technology to the student, instead of making them come to a simulation center.
Using advanced simulators in the classroom definitely benefits the student – whether that student is a paramedic, nurse or doctor – by giving them the chance to practice caring for a child and performing life-saving skills before they have to do it on a real patient. The pediatric trauma course supports critical thinking skills and gives access to the different equipment a medical professional might use when caring for a patient, whether it’s a ventilator or the different medications used.
We work hard behind the scenes to make sure your child receives the right care at the right time and gets to the right place for treatment. We hope you will learn more and share how we can all improve care for all injured children in the U.S.
- Dr. Dennis Taylor is an acute care nurse practitioner that works at a Level I trauma center in North Carolina, and has been a paramedic for over 30 years
- Gail Kluttz has been a nurse for 24 years and is the regional trauma systems nurse coordinator at a Level I Trauma Center in North Carolina
- Dale Hill works as the regional trauma outreach coordinator at a Level I trauma center in North Carolina and has been a Paramedic for more than 25 years, working in the pre-hospital, hospital and academic settings

Monday, October 6, 2014

ATV Safety Facts by Bob Gfeller

A major goal of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma is addressing the issue of mild traumatic brain injury in youth when they participate in recreation and sports. By youth, I mean these are boys and girls roughly 15 years old and younger. By recreation and sports, I mean all the sports the kids play such as boys playing football, hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and girls playing soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and volleyball, as well as other sports. 

From a recreational standpoint, we're specifically talking about outdoor recreation on ATVs, four wheelers, motocross, and of course bicycles. I'd like to focus in on the ATV issue for this blog because the statistics are really surprising. We have studied a lot of literature and a lot of studies that have been done in this area. In fact, we have funded a couple of papers in this area, one of which should come out at the end of 2014.

There are about 10 million ATVs in use throughout America today. Injuries on ATVs are up approximately 70 percent over the past ten years and injuries in children have now reached 40,000 emergency room visits per year. Why is that? When you look at injuries on ATVs, children represent only 20 percent of the riders, but 50 percent of the injuries. These injuries include both a singular injury, which means a head or limb injury, but over 20 percent of them are multiple injuries, meaning limb and head or internal organ and head, so they're pretty severe injuries when we look at them.

For example, a study published by Dr. Allison McBride shows that in North Carolina 27 percent of ATV injuries are children but they are only 14 percent of the riders. There are three major factors:

1. Kids are driving machines that are just too big and powerful for them to control
  • There is legislation in all states defining legal ages for children to drive an ATV, with specific guidelines for size and power based on age
  • Most states say that children under 16 cannot drive an ATV unless they have parental supervision
My two cents: These rules are pretty hard to enforce when you're in rural areas around the country

2. Drivers and riders are too young
  • Average age of a driver is 12
  • Average age of a rider is 9
My two cents: These are little kids driving and riding on powerful machines

3. “Reckless” activities on ATVs
  • 90 percent of riders do not wear a helmet
  • Driving too fast
  • Riding an ATV on paved roads
  • Alcohol consumption
My two cents: If you have ever ridden or driven an ATV, you know that when it hits a paved road the tires bounce and you can easily flip

Why does all this matter to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma? Part of our equity is that the Childress family is very involved and passionate about the outdoors. We know that families love the outdoors – hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other activities – and to get to many remote areas in our beautiful country ATVs are used. As the economy improves, more ATVs are being sold. We want to work in the area of ATV injury prevention and treatment.

As we look toward 2015, we will work on two recreation initiatives:
  • Improve research and knowledge on what causes people to ignore safety regulations for riding ATVs
  • Get involved in educational and outreach programs to make ATVs safer, which may include encouraging the use of helmets among both adults and children
Please remember this as you head into the fall recreational activities:  if you wear a helmet, injuries to the face and head could be reduced by 50 percent. A simple helmet can save you a world of grief and pain if you or your child are injured riding an ATV. Our goal is to save the lives of injured children. Your actions can save a life!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Building Our Future by Bob Gfeller

I've now been in my position for 120 days, and the team and I spent a lot of time looking at what we do well, what we need to do better, and clarifying how we will build our future.

In the six years since the Institute started in 2008, the death rate for injured children has been reduced from 12,400 to the 9,500 per year in the U.S. Many organizations are focused on improving those numbers. The Institute wants to work on topics that have societal impact over the long haul, so we need to clarify our message so that our audience understands what we do.

Part of that is clarifying our mission. Our new mission is to discover and share the best ways to prevent and treat severe injuries in children. We're going to focus on identifying and sharing best practices, particularly from the best pediatric trauma centers to the ones in need. We are going to work more in the area of prevention in addition to treatment and care after an injury.

Our three overarching strategies will now be funding research, education and advocacy, with measurable outcomes for each. From an advocacy standpoint we have to ignite the discussion of pediatric trauma at the local, state and federal government levels, because we need funding help from the government. Additionally, we are going to redesign our private fundraising initiatives to insure that we can raise at least $5,000,000 over the next five years.

With those three strategies we are going to focus our work in two areas:

1. Raising the level of pediatric trauma care nationwide

If your child is cared for at a Level I pediatric trauma center after a severe injury, they have a 25% better chance of surviving than if they're not. The bottom line is certain communities are better prepared to address a severely injured child when they show up at their hospital doorstep than others. We have an opportunity to help those in need get better prepared.
We've preliminarily mapped the U.S. and identified a number of states like Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Utah, and Georgia, whose pediatric trauma readiness clearly lags states like North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, and New York, particularly as it relates to having a Level I or Level II pediatric trauma center in their state.
  • Pediatric Trauma Summit 2015
We are planning another pediatric trauma summit for 2015, which will resume the work laid out at the 2013 summit. The next summit will move theoretical ideas to more concrete action plans behind two specific aims: 1) extend pediatric trauma care to rural communities through innovative ways, and 2) create a toolkit to share best practices, tools, and techniques from well-established Level 1 pediatric trauma centers to others.

2. Prevention and treatment in youth sports and recreation
  • Youth Sports
You've heard a lot about injury in sports, mainly from all the news about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions (mTBI) in football. We have funded the ongoing iTAKL youth football study for three seasons now. We need to focus on youth, 14 and under, because there is very little work being done for that age group. We plan to go beyond football to learn more about sports injuries for boys, particularly hockey, and we need to research soccer, basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading and other injury-prone sports for girls.
  • Youth recreation
Additionally, we need to discover ways to improve safety and treatment for recreational injuries to children, especially regarding ATV safety in the U.S. There are millions of ATVs on the road and there are millions of kids riding ATVs improperly, even though all states have laws regulating children riding ATVs. The problem is that they're riding without supervision, without helmets. They're riding on and driving equipment that's too powerful for their age, and they're falling.

Twenty-one percent of injuries amongst children on ATVs are multi-causal – head, bone, internal injuries. Nationwide, the research says that while children are only 20% of the riders on ATVs, they are 50% of those injured on ATVs. The most astounding fact is that 90% of kids riding ATVs don't wear helmets. We will leverage our relationships and Richard Childress' passion for the outdoors to help address this issue.

We will keep you posted on our progress through our newsletters as each initiative evolves. As always, we welcome your input and support.

Stay inspired!