17 October, 2017 commemorates World Trauma Day. The day focuses on the critical role of effective pre-hospital trauma care during the life-threatening moments after a crash when efficient emergency services can have a significant impact in minimising injuries and trauma fatalities.
According to the World Health Organisation, injury kills more people each year than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined, with over 90% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, who ironically only have 54% of the world’s registered vehicles. Economic factors exacerbate the extent of injury and death: if fatality rates from severe injury were the same in low- and middle-income countries as they are in high-income countries, between 1.5 and 2 million lives could be saved every year.
“World Trauma Day is a significant day in the year to help promote road safety and create awareness of the significant factors which can contribute to reducing South Africa’s injury and fatality numbers resulting from road crashes,” says Eugene Beck, CEO of RoadCover, which assists members involved in an accident to receive 100% pay-out of their RAF claims, without any extra costs to themselves.
“It is often the first hour which is the most vital in terms of treating a person who has suffered a trauma and mitigating the extent of the injuries. This is facilitated by pre-hospital and emergency care for which the WHO have provided a Trauma Care Checklist.
Human activity is said to cause 77.5% of all road crashes in South Africa. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation contributing factors are as follows: jaywalking pedestrians (38.8%), hit and run crashes (18.5%), high speed (14.1%), overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic (6.9%), drunk driving or driving while on drugs (3.6%), and driver fatigue (2.2%).
“South Africa has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Because of the industry in which we serve, we have a deep understanding of accidents and how the resulting injuries can change people’s lives,” explains Beck.
According to the RTMC, the cost of road traffic crashes on South Africa’s roads amounted to close to R143bn in 2015, or 3.4% of GDP. Costs are result from treatment as well as the loss of productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries. Additionally, caregivers such as family member need to take time off work or school to care for the injured person, reducing their capacity to work during this time.
“Of course, there is the material loss to take into account, but people are irreplaceable. While we can’t argue with statistics, we as a people and as road users can be more proactive on the roads, both in decreasing risk when driving and augmenting our emergency infrastructure to assist road accident victims,” states Beck.
“Let’s use World Trauma Day as an opportunity to start being more vigilant on our roads and to implement further emergency infrastructure to bring the vital care needed to reduce fatalities and make our roads safer for all users.”