Have fun and be smart
Tips for preventing injury this summer
As a registered nurse with Enloe since 1987, Judy Cline, Trauma Program Manager and Chief Flight Nurse, has seen the most critically injured patients in this part of the Northern California region. While helping these patients recover is incredibly rewarding, the ultimate reward is to prevent traumatic injuries from happening in the first place. Here are tips, based on Cline's depth of experience, to help you and your loved ones enjoy the summer and stay well.
Lower your risk
"It is rare that we see injuries as a result of natural disasters," says Cline. "Most injuries are a result of unsafe or distracted driving, lack of helmet use, lack of seat belts, driving under the influence, taking unnecessary risks, or a combination of the above. It may not have been intentional, but it was preventable."
Here are a few ways she suggests you and your loved ones can stay safe this summer:
Pay attention to your surroundings. This advice applies to a wide variety of circumstances. "Situational awareness is important," says Cline. "Pay attention when you are driving. Don't assume other people see you on your bicycle or when you are crossing the street. Don't wear dark clothing and ride your bike down the Skyway at night and expect to come out unscathed."
Always wear your seat belt. "It's absolutely imperative," says Cline. "We see severe injuries, including major crush injuries and amputations as a result of people getting partially or fully ejected from vehicles." Many people still believe urban legends about being thrown to safety after a crash because of not wearing a seat belt. "It's so extremely rare. Wear your seat belt, I'm begging you."
Wear appropriate safety equipment. It's vital to wear the right safety gear when engaged in sports. "Some people feel their experience (on a horse, ATV, driving, etc.) will keep them safe," says Cline. Unfortunately, this perception isn't always reality and can lead to a visit to the trauma center. Even the best-fitting and highest-tech equipment can only protect people to a certain point, but it can't protect at all if it's not worn.
Use caution entering water. "Water levels can change. What may have been deep two weeks ago may now be quite shallow," explains Cline. "Often you cannot really see what's under the water, especially in creeks and lakes. There are sharp rocks, sometimes broken glass or tree snags." Water constantly alters the bottom of rivers, creeks and lakes, and can shift rocks and bring new debris into areas that were previously clear. Even if you know the area well, always check before jumping in and never dive. "Also, people sometimes simply underestimate the power of water — especially when intoxicated."
Be smart around town. Many injuries can be caused by the actions of other people. "Don't assume everyone else is sober," says Cline. "Don't pick a fight outside a bar. We are seeing more penetrating trauma (stabbings, gunshot wounds, criminal violence) unfortunately."
Enjoy the season
Using proper precautions can prevent many injuries, but some may still occur. "It's remarkable how much trauma the human body can endure and survive," says Cline. "You can't live your life in a bubble, but you can be smart and still have a lot of fun this summer."
Enloe's Trauma Center receives prestigious designation
Enloe Medical Center's Level II Trauma Center was verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) this spring after an on-site assessment. This makes Enloe the only verified Level II Trauma Center north of the Sacramento area, and one of only seven in Northern California. Verified trauma centers must meet essential criteria that ensure trauma care capability and institutional performance.
"Having the ACS come in and verify our trauma program is a wonderful validation of the trauma care provided at Enloe Medical Center," says Cline. "Being the highest-level trauma center in our region is a tremendous commitment that Enloe has made to Chico and our surrounding counties to ensure people receive the best trauma care possible."