Health, Yes

May 22, 2015

Preventable injuries fill Vanderbilt University Hospital each Memorial Day; doctors urge safety on upcoming holiday weekend

With the Memorial Day holiday upon us, doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are preparing for what is typically one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Victims of automobile, boating, motorcycle, swimming and all-terrain vehicle accidents flood Vanderbilt each year during this holiday weekend, which is considered the official kick-off to summer.

“Many of these accidents could have been prevented or significantly reduced in severity with proper safety precautions such as wearing helmets and seatbelts,” said Richard Miller, M.D., chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Vanderbilt. “Alcohol is also a big contributor to accidents and injuries. It is critical to stay hydrated, consume alcohol in moderation and know your limits. Taking the keys away from those impaired may save a life.”

Over the 2014 Memorial Day holiday weekend, Vanderbilt University Hospital and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt treated nearly 100 trauma victims combined, with 48 of those critically injured patients transported via Vanderbilt LifeFlight. LifeFlight experienced the highest volume of flights in the program’s history over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, flying 90 patients over the three-day period.

“One poor decision can impact the lives of many,” said Alex Jahangir, M.D., medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn, and Emergency Surgery at Vanderbilt. “I would encourage everyone to make responsible decisions this Memorial Day and celebrate the lives of those who defended and protected the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Vanderbilt offers these reminders for the upcoming holiday weekend:

Fire: Properly clean grills, check for gas leaks and only use grills outside. Carefully monitor anyone who is near a fire of any kind, and properly extinguish fire pits when not in use.

Water: Never swim alone, closely supervise children, wear floatation devices when boating and be mindful of other boaters and skiers nearby.

Travel: Wear helmets at all times when riding a bicycle or motorcycle; wear seatbelts at all times when traveling by car; obey the speed limit and other traffic laws; refrain from texting or other distracting activities while driving; and never consume alcohol while driving.

Sun: Temperatures across the southeast are expected to be in the mid- to high-80s this weekend, making heat-related illnesses and sunburn a concern. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If feeling faint or nauseous, get into a cool, shady place immediately.

Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake, as it can impair judgment and intensify the consequences of heat exposure.