Every day any number of tragedies bring victims to trauma centers: falls, car accidents, gun shot wounds…the list goes on. But some times, a victim may come in where the underlying events that led to the accident may not be apparent or hasn’t been seen before. After the physical wounds are dealt with, trauma room staff often ask what may seem like a simple question: “What happened?”
Robin Garza is Trauma Program Manager at Ben Taub. She says trauma rooms are often on the front lines of identifying new, dangerous trends. The latest being talked about in Texas is car surfing.
“Standing on top of cars, or on the hoods, on the back of cars, while the cars are going down the street. And what happens is, very frequently, they fall off of the cars, sustain an injury. And what we have are a lot of head injuries which are a huge burden on the health care system.”
Trauma staff in the Dallas area are starting to hear about and see signs of car surfing, so they are notifying others around the state. Garza says the information gives them a heads up to look for this trend and possibly do a public education campaign to stop the trend before victims show up in the emergency room. Beyond educating parents and teens of the dangerous activity, Garza says trauma centers try to collect data to see if a case can be made for public policy changes.
“We have to have good data. A perfect example of the benefit of collecting this data and taking it to the legislature are seat belts, helmets. Those are all results of data collected by trauma centers. They have pushed it forward and said this is a problem. And injuries are occurring because we are not appropriately trying to prevent them.”
A number of agencies help with this effort including law enforcement. Texas legislation this year proposes to increase car seat requirements for children. And then there’s the issue of cell phones and driving.
“But texting is the next big trend that we are looking at.”
Garza says they have a lot of incentive to find out the story behind every accident.
“But for us to be able to prevent theses injuries from occurring over and over and over, we have identify the offenders, who is doing it, what is the action, and that’s what we try to collect on the back-end and see what preventative measures we can put into place.”
Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.