Healthcare workers promote safety precautions
Guns, water, motorcycles, bicycles, skis, farm equipment, fireworks, trampolines and the ground. Yes, even the ground.
What do they all have in common? Traumatic accidents and injuries.
May is National Trauma Awareness Month and while emergency healthcare workers across the state want the public to have a fun summer, they are also asking that you take the appropriate precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Kelsey Dollar, traumatic program director at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said the hospital treated just under 1,000 traumatic injuries last year. Among the most common were falls, motor vehicle accidents and motorcycle accidents — but the hospital treated unusual traumas as well.
“We have seen small plane crashes from the local airport, livestock and farm equipment accidents causing catastrophic damage, a skiing accident where the victim hit a tree and split their helmet wide open, a fall while pruning a tree and a slip and fall on water from doing the dishes,” Dollar said. “Each of these resulted in serious injury, but show the wide variety of accidents that can cause traumatic injury.”
At Intermountain Layton Hospital Dr. Cabe Clark, emergency department chair, said the two main types of trauma seen in the emergency department are blunt force and penetrating trauma.
“By far, the majority of the trauma we see is blunt force trauma,” Clark said. “This includes motor vehicle accidents, falls, bicycle accidents. Penetrating trauma is much more rare in our area, but would include gun and knife violent trauma. The most common traumas seen at Layton are ground-level falls.”
Clark and Dollar both said ground-level falls might not seem like a big deal, but they can be very dangerous, especially in the elderly population.
“It is the No. 1 reason for traumatic injury seen in our emergency department,” Dollar said. “A ground-level fall is typically a fall that begins when a person has their feet on the ground. In other words, they are not up on ladders or jumping, they are walking or standing at ground-level.”
Clark said ground-level falls can occur from standing up and moving too quickly, getting up at night to use the restroom and walking without a walker or cane. As a result, many people end up with broken hips, fractured ribs and pelvises and even traumatic brain injuries.
“It’s important to make sure your home is safe,” Clark said. “This would include handrails in all the appropriate locations.”
Dollar said there are several things people can do to prevent ground-level falls. Staying physically active and keeping your body strong and flexible is important, as well as making sure your eyesight and hearing is as good as possible for your age and physical condition.
“Be aware of any medications you are taking that might cause dizziness,” Dollar said. “Stand up slowly, use an assistive device such as a cane or walker to help keep you steady and supported.”
Remove all obstacles in the home that could cause you to slip or fall. Rugs can be especially dangerous, Dollar said. Also, keep cupboard doors and drawers closed at all times, wipe up spills immediately and be extremely careful if you have pets in the home to avoid tripping and falling over them.
Other precautions to take include keeping your home well lit at all times, wearing non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet. People are also encouraged to carry a phone so they can call for help. You can also get a necklace or bracelet with an emergency button to push that will alert a response team to your location. Stay in close contact with family, friends and neighbors who would notice your absence and could summon for help, and be very careful on wet or icy surfaces.
If you do fall, Clark and Dollar said it’s important to remain on the ground and try to relax. If you are hurt and can’t get up, ask someone for help or call 911 if you can. If you are home alone, try to get into a comfortable position until help arrives.
“If you think you are okay, roll over to your side and rest again to allow your body to adjust,” Dollar said. “Don’t try to stand up at this point. Slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy table or chair. Put your hands on the chair seat and slide one foot forward so it’s flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent so the knee is on the floor.”
From the kneeling position, Dollar said to slowly rise and turn your body to sit in the chair. It’s also important to report all falls to your doctor, even if you think you’re okay. Falls can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Clark and Dollar said most traumas are preventable with good common sense and safety practices.
“Please wear your seat belts in the car,” said Clark. “Wear your helmets where appropriate and listen to your doctors. If they recommend a walker or cane, please use it. If you need to jazz it up with stickers or paint, do it.”