Montgomery, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and The Alabama Hospital Association (ALAHA) released a report today detailing the decrease in trauma-related deaths in Alabama from 2006-2011, the last full year figures were available. ADPH and ALAHA credited the fact that Alabama established a statewide trauma system in March 2007 with this drop in fatalities.
“We know that about 80 percent of Alabama’s trauma cases are a result of motor vehicle accidents,” Dr. John Campbell, retired State Emergency Services Medical Director, said. “This report shows that our efforts to improve emergency response and treatment have been effective in reducing fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents.”
A trauma system is a coordinated system of care that includes emergency medical technicians, a trauma communications system, hospital emergency department staff, trauma surgeons and other physicians who provide needed surgical and other care. These providers work together to determine the best possible course of action for the injured persons reported through the 911 system.
Campbell added “Most injuries are minor, and the patients do not need to be taken to a trauma center, but for the 10 percent with life-threatening injuries, the right care at the right facility in the shortest amount of time can mean the difference between life and death.”
“The health and societal costs of injuries are staggering,” State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson said. “Prevention is key to reducing the number of injuries and deaths in our state, and an effective trauma system saves lives.”
The Alabama Hospital Association has started www.AlabamaTrauma.com to keep the public informed about the system, what it does and how it works. Dr. Campbell will also be appearing at civic clubs and other speaking engagements to talk about the good accomplished by the Alabama Trauma System and the need for further expansion.
“As an emergency physician and educator with more than 40 years of experience, I have been fighting for such a system since the 1970s,” Dr. Campbell said. “Thirty years ago, Alabama doctors developed a trauma care course for paramedics that is now used in 29 countries and has been translated into 11 languages, but having the best-trained paramedics in the U.S. means nothing if you can’t get your patients to the right hospital in time to save them. This system routes trauma patients to the closest appropriate hospital that can provide the life-saving care they need, and the data shows it works.”
The rate of deaths due to motor vehicle crashes has shown steady improvement from 27.64 per 100,000 in 2006 to 18.05 in 2011. The improved capacity of emergency medical services in managing trauma care has contributed to this significant decrease. During 2010 and 2011, EMS handled almost 45 percent more accidents involving traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, with a lower death rate than in prior years.
To read the report, go to www.AlabamaTrauma.com and click on “Resources.”