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September 8, 2005
Corporate Communications & Public Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772
Road Safety Committee takes on the "A" word
Challenging language: a grassroots initiative in injury prevention
(LONDON, Ontario) - Today the London-Middlesex Road Safety Committee, together with the Trauma Program at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), launched No More Accidents - an injury prevention awareness program calling for the eradication of the word "accident."
No More Accidents encourages frontline healthcare workers, emergency personnel and media to stop using the word "accident" and to "call it what it is: injury, collision, incident or crash."
Key provincial specialists who treat trauma patients and experts in road safety and injury prevention education gathered at LHSC for the launch.
"Most people consider injuries to be 'accidents' - something they cannot control or prevent," says Denise Polgar, Injury Prevention Educator, London Health Sciences Centre, and member of the London Road Safety Committee. "As a result, people do not recognize or react to the devastating and daily threat of injury. We're working to correct this misperception: our goal is to change the language we use to describe injury and its causes in order to make people more aware that injury can easily be prevented."
Every hour of every day 85 Ontarians are unintentionally injured (over 2,000 people each day). On a yearly basis, injuries cost Ontarians $2.9 billion or $260 per citizen, while statistics indicate that nine out of 10 incidents causing injury or death are predictable and therefore preventable.
"People need to learn that they can play a role in preventing death and injury in their own lives and the lives of others. The choices we make can change lives forever," says Heather Glowacki, trauma survivor and area resident. In 1991, Heather was involved in crash caused by an impaired driver and as a result, she is a quadriplegic. "The crash I was involved in could have been prevented: if the driver had not been drinking and driving as well as speeding, I most certainly would have made it home safely. If she chose not to drink and drive, what would my life be like today?"
"It's time that motorists take responsibility for their actions," says Chief Murray Faulkner, London Police Service. "When a driver chooses to speed, drive aggressively or drink and drive, he or she is responsible for causing any event that results in damage, injury or death. No excuses, take responsibility. It's no accident!"
"As frontline healthcare workers we provide specialized care for trauma patients, but we also play a key role in injury prevention," says Dr. Murray Girotti, Medical Director of the Trauma Program at LHSC. "It's our responsibility to use appropriate language when describing events that cause injury. People need to know the possible causes of an injury in order to recognize the ways it could have been prevented."
Using words like "injury, collision, incident or crash" in news articles, police reports and patient charts is an important step in changing the perceptions regarding injuries. It can help Canadians to think about the risks that cause events and the ways in which events are preventable. Organizations including Smartrisk, the Snowbirds, and Public Health Units, along with front line workers such as paramedics, firefighters, police, healthcare professionals and media support this campaign.
London-Middlesex Road Safety Committee is made up members of various agencies and organizations including London Health Sciences Centre, London Police Service, the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario Provincial Police, and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Leadership on the committee is represented by members from the Middlesex-London Health Unit and the City of London. With a total team approach, the committee works together to achieve its goals and its overall mission to make roadways safer. The committee implements, supports and evaluates various road injury prevention initiatives and events, in order to decrease traffic-related fatalities and injuries on London and Middlesex roadways.
London Health Sciences Centre, Trauma Program: As one of 11 designated Lead Trauma Hospitals (LTH) in Ontario, LHSC is part of a provincial trauma system that includes all the components identified with optimal trauma care such as: prevention, access, acute hospital care, rehabilitation, education and research activities. As the LTH for Southwestern Ontario, the LHSC Trauma Program provides leadership in the specialized care of moderately and severely injured adults and children. The program coordinates services to meet regional needs and participates in local, provincial and national programs related to education, research and injury prevention.
London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC encompasses three sites, South Street Hospital, University Hospital and Victoria Hospital; two family medical centres; and the London Regional Cancer Program. LHSC is the home of the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is partnered with London's other teaching hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, London. LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.