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The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) serves as the designated Lead Trauma Hospital (LTH) for the Southwestern Ontario region. There are currently eleven hospitals in Ontario that have been designated as LTH's by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. These eleven hospitals comprise 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. In southwestern Ontario, the role of the LHSC Trauma Program is to provide 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.
The Trauma Program is an integral part of the LHSC Surgery Services with strong linkages to Emergency Care, Children's Care and The University of Western Ontario.
The Trauma Program is part of the London Road Safety Strategy - with the goal of reducing fatal and severe injury motor vehicle crashes by 10% in the next 5 years. For more information on this initiative please see The City of London's website.
For over 20 years, the trauma program has been making an impact on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of teenagers to reduce drinking/drugging and driving through its Impact program. Impact aims to heighten teen awareness of the potential consequences of high-risk behaviour.
Impact, supported since 2007 by Children’s Health Foundation, will be expanded to incorporate other driving issues teenagers are facing such as distraction and fatigue and behavioural issues such as binge drinking and peer pressure.
Over the past year, LHSC’s injury prevention team conducted focus groups with over 200 grade 10 and 11 students at 10 London and surrounding area secondary schools.
“We wanted a fresh understanding of all the issues affecting teenagers and driving in order to educate them about the consequences of high-risk behaviour in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them,” says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC.
The focus groups at secondary schools revealed that 55 percent of high school students surveyed drank alcohol in the past year, 22 per cent had used cannabis in the last year, 14 per cent had used opioid pain relievers in the last year and 8.7 per cent had smoked cigarettes. Notably, the use of drugs increases with grade.
“Many of the results we found were expected, but we also received feedback from students about texting and driving, self-harm, abusive relationships, same sex relationships, and peer pressure,” continues Harrington. “These issues do not affect teenage driving behaviours, but they can lead to injury.”
Students were also asked about the effectiveness of injury prevention messages and identified that they would like presentations to focus on personal experiences with relevant video and images.
Acting upon that feedback, LHSC’s trauma program partnered with Josh Field Support Network, a non-profit, family based organization, with the mission of raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Together, they created a video to be shown during Impact presentations that would provide a personal and relevant experience.
The video - “Distracted Driving - Josh’s Story” – focuses on the impact that one moment of distraction still has on Josh’s family, friends and a community four years after Josh was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision.
“Distracted Driving - Josh’s Story” can be viewed on LHSC’s Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/LHSCCanada