Greetings to you all,
In service as Chair and on behalf of the State Trauma Advisory Committee’s (STAC) Injury Prevention Subcommittee, I am writing this letter to formally voice opposition to some recently filed legislation, Senate Bill 566 (SB566) and House Bill (HB615), short titled, the NC Consumer Fireworks Safety Act. It is the wish of the injury prevention professionals from each of the 14 Trauma Centers represented in this committee that this legislation as proposed not be permitted to reach approval/become law in our state.
It is of great concern to our committee that passing such legislation will result in an increase of fireworks related injuries, deaths, and hospital costs across North Carolina. Our perspective is based on studies that show increased fireworks-related injuries in states that have loosened their restriction on fireworks laws. Since 2008, six additional states have legalized discharge of consumer grade fireworks and during that time serious injuries in those states increased by 75%.
In 2018, 191 North Carolina residents visited an emergency department due to a firework related injury, and during 2017 and 2018 the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center admitted 33 patients due to fireworks related injuries.. Eight of these patients were under the age of 16. The average hospital cost of burn patients at the NC Jaycee Burn Center during that time period was over $62,000 per patient, which means hospital costs for these 33 patients was an estimated $2 million total. The cost and frequency of fireworks related injuries in North Carolina is already too high, and if this bill were to be approved we can expect to see a significant increase in both. Although the proposed bill includes tax revenue language based on the sales of these “consumer fireworks”, those proposed monies simply do not equate to the real cost of hospital bills and the emotional cost for those who have lost someone or been injured in a fireworks related injury.
Please join the State Trauma Advisory Committee for Injury Prevention in opposition to SB 566 and HB 615. Reach out to your local legislators and voice your concerns.
STAC Injury Prevention Subcommittee Chair
Chances are you know someone who has fallen or who is afraid of falling. A Matter of Balance is a proven program designed to help people manage concerns about falls and increase physical activity. Southern Maine Agency on Aging is looking for volunteers to help provide this program.
This program emphasizes practical strategies to manage falls.
Participants learn to:
- view falls as controllable
- set goals for increasing activity
- make changes to reduce fall risks at home
- exercise to increase strength and balance
Classes are held twice a week for 4 weeks for 2 hours each.
Coaches help participants become more confident about managing falls, help to identify ways to reduce falls, and lead exercises to help increase strength and balance.
What do you need to be a coach?
- good communication and interpersonal skills
- enthusiasm, dependability and a willingness to lead small groups of older adults
- ability to lead low to moderate level exercise
When: August 19th & 20th from 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Where: UNC Wellness Center Meadowmont
Presented by UNC Trauma Program
To Register Please Contact Lindsay Bailey at 984-974-2437 or Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org
The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center Donates 350 Fire Extinguishers to Families in Need
A fire in Efland, North Carolina launched an idea for fire safety classes that eventually grew to a collaboration between the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, Orange County Fire Marshal and Safe Kids that culminated in community education and donation of life-saving fire extinguishers.
In January 2018 an accidental fire broke out at a home in the Tinnin Woods neighborhood, located in Efland, North Carolina. A fire that began on the outside of the home, spread quickly to the inside, leaving behind a few walls and destroying the property of a family who could ill afford it. The fire and its destruction rocked the small community who thought the smoke alarms and sprinkler systems in their homes were protection enough against something like this happening. Tinnin Woods is a small neighborhood of homes built for and by families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, which works to change lives by bringing together people and resources to help families build and own quality affordable homes in safe and supportive communities.
“There was an outpouring of compassion from the community and Habitat to help the family who lost their home in the fire,” said Marisa Martini, Community Development Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, NC. “Simultaneously homeowners in our neighborhoods started asking questions about how they could protect their homes and families from this type of tragedy.”
Neighbors and other homeowners quickly came together to support the family affected by organizing a food and donation drive to help address some of the family’s immediate needs. The Habitat Homeowner Planning Committee, a group of homeowners who meet biweekly to discuss community concerns, plan events, and volunteer their time and efforts to help improve their community, led this effort and then involved Martini, to plan fire safety classes.
Martini coordinated with the Orange County Fire Marshal, Jason Shepherd, and his team, as well as the Efland Volunteer Fire Department, Chapel Hill Fire Marshal, and Orange County Emergency Services to conduct fire safety classes. During the classes, held earlier this summer, homeowners learned about common fire hazards, smoke detectors, how to make a fire escape plan, and how to use a fire extinguisher. The events were educational for adults and kids alike since they had a chance to meet firefighters, ask questions, and explore a fire truck.
At the class held in Efland participants had the unique opportunity to use a fire extinguisher first hand. “We bring our fire extinguisher system with us when we teach fire safety classes,” said Shepherd. “It involves our team, that included Assistant Fire Marshals David Sikes and Elizabeth Farnan, creating a controlled fire that people can then practice using fire extinguishers on so they can get confident using one in a real fire.”
There was just one problem, participants were learning how to use a fire extinguisher, a major component of the fire safety class, but few families owned one. Marisa reached out to a former colleague, Lindsay Bailey, whom she attended school with at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and who is the coordinator of Safe Kids Orange County. Safe Kids is an international nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from preventable injuries. Safe Kids Orange County, the local coalition chapter, works with a network of partners to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, and poisonings. Representatives include several local Fire Departments, local law enforcement, public health, Orange County Department of Social Services, Orange County Public Schools, Orange County Emergency Services Head Start, Habitat for Humanity, and other child-focused community organizations. They organize events throughout the year to address child safety concerns including Fire Safety.
“During our recent home safety presentation to Orange County Head Start parents, the fire marshal’s office did a presentation on using a fire extinguisher; and it was then we found out that none of the 20 parents who attended the class owned one,” Bailey explained. “We realized there was a big gap that we wanted to help fill. When Marisa reached out to me around the same time, I realized this was an important issue not just for the parents associated with Safe Kids but also others in the community in need such as the Habitat homeowners.”
In her other role, Bailey is the Injury Prevention Coordinator for the UNC Health Care Trauma Program, where she works on projects with Dr. Earnest Grant, RN, MSN, FAAN. Dr. Grant is the Program Manager for Outreach and Education at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care, one of the largest and most comprehensive burn centers in the world with a 36-bed facility for adult and pediatric care. Through its education and outreach programs, the Burn Center works diligently to improve the quality of emergency burn treatment across the state. “I reached out to Dr. Grant to see if he knew of a grant or resource that would allow us to provide fire extinguishers to families in the community,” said Lindsay.
“In 2017 we were awarded a FEMA Fire Grant that we used to teach the community fire and burn safety,” explains Dr. Ernest Grant. “When Lindsay reached out to me for suggestions, we thought it was a fortuitous opportunity to use the funds to purchase fire extinguishers for members of the community willing to attending fire safety classes.”
The FEMA Fire Grant allowed The Jaycee Burn Center to purchase 350 fire extinguishers which they donated to the North Carolina Community. Some of the fire extinguishers were distributed to the each of the participants that attended the fire safety classes in Efland and Chapel Hill as well as to the parents who attended the Safe Kids class. The remaining fire extinguishers will be distributed at community events and will be kept at the Fire Marshal’s office to be distributed during Habitat’s new home dedications and home inspections when needed. “The burn center has a philosophy – the best way to treat a burn is to prevent it from happening. We feel that the donation to these families has the power to do just that,” said Dr. Grant.
Parents, pet owners need to prepare for interactions between children, dogs
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Dogs are often times a much loved and trusted part of families, but some dogs have a history of aggressive behavior, which can be especially concerning when young children are involved.
Pediatric surgeons at UNC Hospitals say they are seeing an increase in the number of life-threatening encounters between dogs and kids.
Last November, the Wells family, from Statesville, was one of them.
The family was visiting friends in Raleigh when Ryder, a toddler just shy of his second birthday, went into the backyard of a home where two Rottweiler dogs were being kept.
Moments later, Brittany Wells looked outside and saw that her son was in trouble.
“I saw him lying, and it was, ‘Oh my God, he’s in trouble,'” Brittany Wells said. “This happened within minutes.”
The dogs attacked Ryder, breaking his arm and doing severe damage to his left eye, nose and jaw.
Ryder was one of nine children treated for severe dog bite injuries last year at UNC Hospitals. That was almost twice as many cases as the hospital saw in 2014.
Of pediatric dog bite patients 10 years and younger, about 68 percent treated from 2010 to 2015 were under five years old.
UNC says it’s cases are still trending up so far in 2016, including one attack that resulted in a death.
“We’re not talking about nips to the arm or the face,” UNC pediatric surgeon Kimberly Erickson said.
Erickson said dog attacks often cause severe tissue injury because dogs drag children, throwing them back and forth in movements that cause major tears and puncture wounds.
Dr. Barbara Sherman, with the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, counsels families on how to manage their pets around children. She says owners must know if their dog has a history of aggression.
“The closer the toddler gets, especially that eye-to-eye contact, dogs find that very threatening,” Sherman said.
Sherman says dogs with a history of aggression should be “carefully managed and separated from any interactions with children.”
Parents should also work to teach children about the risks of interacting with dogs without creating a phobia of them. Other tips include managing the entry ways to the home, places which are the highest risk areas for dogs and kids to interact.
And children should never approach a dog they don’t know, even if it’s on a leash.
Sherman says aggression isn’t limited to a specific breed of dog.
“I think it’s really best to consider that any dog can bite and that we need to apply general rules of safety for children, regardless of the breed,” she said.
Ryder is healing from his injuries, but he will still need several surgeries to repair his jaw and face. For now, he’s using sign language to communicate.
UNC surgeons say they hope his story can help prevent others like it.
“We would love it if we never saw another horrendous dog bite here again,” Erickson said. “That would be our ultimate goal.”
The UNC Trauma program hosted eight emergency medical technician (EMT) teams at its 5th annual Paramedic Skills Competition on Tuesday, May 2, at the UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus.
Two men hang a banner. One of them has a heart attack and falls off his ladder, knocking his co-worker off of the other ladder. Someone driving by sees the two men lying on the ground and calls 911. First to arrive on the scene are the EMTs who must quickly assess the situation and stabilize the patients.
But on this windy day in Hillsborough, the patients are medical simulation manikins, and the EMTs are working to win points rather than save lives. It’s all part of the 5thannual Paramedic Skills competition, hosted by the UNC Trauma program.
“In some ways it’s an educational event,” said Al Bonifacio, RN, UNC Trauma Program manager, “but to bring these teams in to one place so they can get to know one another, celebrate their craft and for us to thank them for the work they do is something special. It’s something that we are very proud of.”
Each team consisted of three EMTs and was given the same medical scenario – the two men on falling from their ladders. Teams had a limited time to respond and were awarded points based on assessment techniques and treatment standards outlined by the NC Office of Emergency Medical Services.
The competition was judged by Daryhl L Johnson II MD, MPH, FACS, Trauma Medical Director, and assistant professor of surgery in the division of acute care surgery at the UNC School of Medicine, and Jefferson G. Williams, MD, MPH, deputy medical director of the Wake County department of emergency medical services and adjunct clinical assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s department of emergency medicine.
A high school EMT class from Harnett County Central High School was also in attendance to observe the event.
Winners of the event were:
- First Place: Harnett County EMS
- Second place: Guilford County EMS
- Third place: Hoke County EMS
The other teams that participated were:
- Alamance EMS
- Cabarrus EMS
- Cape Fear Valley LifeLINK
- UNC REX Critical Care Transport
- Orange County EMS (winners of last year’s competition)
The competition was a kickoff event for the 28th annual May Day Trauma Conference, an event presented by the UNC Trauma Program that provides a forum for nationally recognized experts in trauma care. The conference is designed to meet the educational needs of trauma care professionals from across the state.
In August, UNC Hospitals held a mass casualty exercise to evaluate the organization’s preparedness for the unthinkable – an active shooter event on the premises.
Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, was a typical weekend morning at UNC Hospitals – calm, with nothing out of the ordinary happening on the premises – until a man barged into the North Carolina Children’s Hospital lobby, yelling, “My friend’s in the car – he’s been shot!”
As Guest Services, UNC Hospitals Police and the Code Medic Team sprang into action, the hospital’s first-ever, fully functional, simulated active shooter drill began.
Two UNC Hospitals Police Officers quickly and cautiously rushed to the scene to find an actor with simulated gunshot wounds to the chest seated in the vehicle parked outside. Once the scene was secure, the Code Medic Team rapidly assessed and transported the pale, unconscious and bloody victim to the emergency department.
“The first part of the scenario grew out of a real-life event here at the hospital,” said Dalton Sawyer, director of Emergency Preparedness at UNC Hospitals and one of the leaders of the UNC Mass Casualty Group, which led the drill. “But we didn’t think this scenario alone would test our response systems as much as necessary, so we added additional events to the drill.”
Nine minutes later, police radios crackled, “Gunshots near the Emergency Services loading dock!”
There, another actor armed with a mock AR-15 assault rifle “shot” several victims. Again, UNC Hospitals Police responded, but this time with red pistols drawn. Turning the corner, they saw and neutralized the threat and began the difficult work of treating the screaming, bloody victims lying on the floor.
Close to Home
On June 13, 2016, after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, Orlando Regional Medical Center faced incredible challenges, treating more than 40 trauma patients and locking down the hospital to visitors except for the victims’ families. The hospital received praise for its actions, and one physician described the experience as “the worst and best day of my career.”
Last month, at Parrish Medical Center, in Titusville, Florida, a gunman with a troubled past killed two people in the hospital. During the last several years, doctors have been shot at major hospitals in Boston and Baltimore.
“These are the kinds of incidents we, as trauma physicians, think about day and night,” said UNC trauma surgeon and Trauma Medical Director Daryhl Johnson, MD, MPH, who served as one of the executive directors of the UNC Mass Casualty Group. “We feel we’ve been fortunate here at UNC, but in our current society, we worry that it’s not a question of if something will happen that tests our response capabilities, but when.”
Incidents that test hospitals’ emergency response capabilities hit close to home for Johnson and many members of the UNC medical community, including Christian Lawson, RN, Director of Emergency Services at UNC Hospitals. But since Lawson arrived at UNC Hospitals in 2015, he has been encouraged by the ongoing emergency response preparation, education, and training at the hospital.
“We’ve been preparing for these kinds of events for a while,” said Lawson, who worked at University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) prior to moving to Chapel Hill. “This year, before the Orlando and Titusville incidents occurred, we had been planning this mass casualty exercise at UNC Hospitals, which included an active shooter, and we knew that the exercise would go a long way toward testing and improving our ongoing preparedness.”
The Aftermath: Learning Lessons
Three days after the drill, on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 9, the UNC Mass Casualty Group gathered in the Emergency Services conference room at UNC Hospitals for a debriefing session on the event.
The group, comprising physicians and nurses from the Emergency Department, UNC Hospitals Police, and the UNC Trauma Program, among other hospital and unit representatives, reviewed what went well during the simulation and discussed areas where improvements must be made.
Johnson referred to the session as an effective opportunity to “Monday Morning Quarterback” the simulation.
“This gave us the chance to find the holes and deficiencies in our responses and systems that perhaps people hadn’t considered,” said Johnson. “How did the operating rooms respond? Were they staffed sufficiently? Did police take proper action after removing the threat?”
As they watched a video of the exercise, Al Bonifacio, UNC Trauma Program Manager, described the feeling he had while watching the first-person footage of UNC Hospitals police, with mock pistols drawn, clearing space among actors with simulated gunshot wounds who were screaming for help.
“It was eerie,” said Bonifacio. “As exercise staff, we were monitoring for safety, evaluating the participants’ actions, and timing how long it took victims to get to the Emergency Department, yet we were thoroughly immersed in the experience. Even though we knew and rehearsed what would happen time and again, it felt all too real – but it needed to be to be effective.”
Lawson echoed Bonifacio’s response, recalling a moment during the exercise in which he turned to Sawyer and shared how real the scenario felt as it was being executed.
“That was a common reaction from everyone involved,” Lawson said. “There was a visceral reaction to the event from all responders, and we, as leaders, felt that. Active shooter incidents occur way too frequently in this country. We wanted to run an exercise that mirrored what’s been happening around us and use it as an opportunity to improve our response protocols and policies and enhance our systems. We owe it to our staff, patients, and the larger community to be prepared.”
In addition to improving protocols and response agility, Lawson wants all employees to know that UNC will continue to invest the time, resources and leadership to ensure that the hospital is a safe place for employees, patients and their families.
“Part of communicating that is becoming better prepared, and part of being prepared is developing our culture of running mass casualty exercises,” he continued. “We’re going to do them frequently to make sure that everyone has what they need, that action plans can be created based on what we learn from these events, and that polices and processes will change.”
Lawson has led similar disaster drills at hospitals around the country. UTMC drilled for these scenarios regularly, and because of the large number of trauma cases seen annually in the Emergency Department in Knoxville, operating rooms and the entire healthcare team were very agile. But, he said, although UTMC and other institutions may more routinely drill, the recently performed UNC drill may have been the best he’s been a part of – and he credited Sawyer, UNC Hospitals Police and members of the Tar Heel Trauma Team for putting it together.
“The team set it up, got buy in from all the key stakeholders, and executed it nicely,” he explained. “It makes me confident in our abilities to do more of these in ways that add value to the organization. It makes me confident that we can be as prepared as needed for an influx of patients coming to the Emergency Department and to our operating rooms and into the hospital.”
Sawyer said that the exercise, which included participation from nearly 50 staffers from across the hospital and from other regional agencies, helped improve emergency preparedness at UNC Hospitals.
“Though preparedness will always be ongoing and much work has yet to be done,” he said, “we feel we are better prepared to deal with these unthinkable events because of the hard work of everyone who participated in the exercise.”
In all, nearly 50 staffers from across the hospital and region helped to conduct the exercise. Here is a list of those who participated:
- Orange County EMS
- New Hanover Trauma Services
- Emergency Nurses Association’s Heart of Carolina Chapter
- UNC Public Safety and Risk Management
UNC Medical Center Participants
- UNC Hospitals Police
- Department of Surgery
- Department of Emergency Medicine (including Scribes and EMS Fellows
- Emergency Services (including Tar Heel Trauma, the Emergency Department and Carolina Air Care)
- Hillsborough Hospital Emergency Department
- House Supervisors
- Peri-operative Services
- Respiratory Therapy
- Nursing Practice and Professional Development
- Operational Efficiency
- and many others
Please note that UNC Hospitals Police will offer Active Shooter Response Training classes at the Hedrick Building (Aug. 31, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Oct. 18, 8 a.m.) and the Hillsborough Campus (Oct. 11, 8:30 a.m.). Log in to LMS to sign up for the courses. Click here for more information.
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