October 17 is World Trauma Day, honoured to emphasise the importance of saving and protecting a life during the most critical moments.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), trauma is a major cause of death and disability across the world.
Road traffic crashes result in the deaths of approximately 1.35 million people around the world each year and leave between 20 and 50 million people with non-fatal injuries, reports WHO. More than half of all road traffic deaths and injuries involve vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and their passengers.
According to ChildSafe, pedestrian vehicle accidents account for 70% of transport-related injuries rushed through the Emergency Centre doors at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Just last year, 552 of 771 transport-related trauma cases were pedestrians and since 2015 (until August 2020) the figure stands at a shocking 3 850.
The severity of these cases can be lessened with effective interference after trauma has occurred. This involves immediate pre-hospital care, adequate knowledge of handling emergency situations and adequate supply of pre-hospital care equipment and facilities like enough ambulances and other medical supplies.
One story that had a positive ending, thanks to immediate medical attention, belongs to Somila Nguta.
“Somila Nguta was walking with her friends along the main road in Strand when her friends suddenly decided to cross the road. Hesitantly she proceeded to follow them across the road and in just a second, Somila was hit by a car,” explains Dwayne Evans, Principal Communications Officer at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
“She was rushed to Somerset West Hospital before being transferred to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Doctors soon discovered that Somila’s intestines were severely damaged and both her legs were broken and she had to undergo two surgeries to rectify the damage.
“Thanks to the dedicated team of professionals who treated her, Somila is receiving physiotherapy and recovering well.”
It is imperative to teach children road safety to avoid incidents like this. Here are some basic pedestrian safety tips from ChildSafe:
– Teach children to choose a play area that is away from traffic
– Always supervise young children when near a road.
– Always hold children’s hands while near moving vehicles.
– Keep children safe on the pavement before crossing the street
– Teach children to look right, look left and right again, to check for traffic before crossing the road.
– Teach children to always cross at a marked crossing.
– If there is no pavement, teach children to walk facing traffic so they can see oncoming vehicles.
– Dress children in brightly coloured clothing with reflective strips so they are visible to drivers.
If you are driving a vehicle, make sure you follow these safety tips:
– Always keep to the speed limit – the faster you drive, the longer it will take to bring your vehicle to a stop
– Make sure everyone in the vehicle wears a safety belt
– Make sure young children are fastened in the correct size child safety seat
– Do not drive if you are tired
– Take regular breaks when driving long distances
– Do not drive if you consumed alcohol or drugs
– Slow down when you see pedestrians next to the road
– Do not take chances on the road because you are in a hurry
– Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and check the tyres, breaks, headlights, and wipers before going on the road
Each child that sustains severe injuries requires specialised, often life-saving, care which passionate and dedicated medical staff provide daily. At present, the Red Cross War Memorial’s Emergency Centre is undergoing an upgrade and expansion to provide these healthcare heroes with better facilities and equipment to cater for the ever-increasing number of children entering its doors.
The upgrade and expansion of the Emergency Centre comes at a cost of R122 million, of which R87 million has been raised thanks to the generosity of their valued donors. The hospital is requesting assistance to reach the finish line and raise the balance of R35 million. Every bit helps, no matter how big or small.
To donate, visit www.childrenshospitaltrust.org.za