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Medi snips

26 July, 2020

Injuries from road accidents, main cause for deaths

The rise in the number of road accidents resulting in injuries and deaths in Sri Lanka prompted the Health Ministry to declare the last week as National Injury Prevention Week. Starting from July 5-10 the National Injury Prevention Week was conducted by the National Committee for Prevention of Injuries ( NCPI) the national advisory body of prevention and control of injuries, and the Non Communicable Disease ( NCD) Unit, the national focal point for injury prevention in the Ministry of Health.

National Coordinator Training, National Hospital Sri Lanka ( NHSL ) Ms Pushpa Ramya Zoysa welcoming the news aimed at bringing injury prevention to centre stage, told the Sunday Observer that the Accident Service, Colombo, normally treats 20% of all injured patients, of whom over 88% are males in the prime of their life. She said trauma injuries were the leading cause of hospitalisation and disability in Sri Lanka. “From January to July this year we had around 35,000 trauma patients. The number would have been very much more if not for the Covid-19 pandemic which kept people indoors. The most vulnerable victims were usually those in the productive age group ranging from 15- 44 years”, she added.

Explaining how a trauma patient could be defined, she said, “ A trauma patient is an injured person who requires timely diagnosis and treatment of actual or potential injuries by a multi disciplinary team of doctors, supported by appropriate resources to diminish or eliminate the risk of death or permanent disability as injuries occur across a broad spectrum.”

“For this we need a Trauma system that must determine the level of appropriate care for such persons”, she stressed.

Asked about the causes for injuries by road accidents, she said they covered a broad area ranging from alcohol and drug abuse, speeding, and not paying attention to road rules; other injuries that were increasing were falls and domestic violence.

On the dos and don’ts when handling injured persons, she gave us the following tips:


1) Don’t run away or speed away from the scene

Even if the accident is not serious, never (and we cannot emphasise enough, Never) flee from an accident scene you are involved in. The worst is, you are abandoning casualties that can be saved. Also, if you run, you are bound to be charged with Hit and Run. This could result in imprisonment.

2) Don’t Panic

Yes, this is a serious situation. However, you can help others only if you try to stay calm and think straight.

3) Don’ts for physical injuries

* Don’t remove stabbed object: Removing it will only worsen the bleeding. The object is the only thing obstructing the blood flow. It is best to leave this job to a medical professional.

* Don’t try to move an injured person’s neck: In case of a serious accident, you may detect a spinal injury by looking at the neck of a person. If it is at an unnatural angle, do not try to move that person.

* Don’t give food or liquids to the injured:

As it would be hard to determine the extent of injuries a person has suffered, it is best not to feed a person on the accident spot. They could choke or would be unable to chew food due to injuries to the jaw.

4) Don’t blame anyone for the accident

You might have suffered injuries and damages due to the accident. However, blaming the other person will only add to the panic already caused by the accident.

5) Don’t accept settlement without an insurance representative

If the accident was evidently not your fault, the third party may offer low cost settlements. This does not serve the purpose of car insurance. Never accept verbal-on-the-spot settlements.

Here are the things one should do after a road accident:

1) Check your injuries

As soon as you feel better, try to check yourself for more injuries. Some injuries would not necessarily bleed, try to move your arms and legs to find injured spots.

2) Try to control the bleeding

If you notice a bleeding wound, try to obstruct the blood flow by tying a cloth an inch above the open wound. Pressing a piece of cloth directly on top of the wound will also help. Use your palm instead of fingers to apply pressure.

3) Call for help

If you see more people injured in an accident, the first thing is shout the word ‘help’ multiple times.

Locals would be the first to attend an accident spot.

4) Make three calls

The first for medical help; the second to the police, to report the accident; and the third call to the insurance helpline.

5) Click pictures of the scene

Once you are sure that no one needs immediate medical attention, start taking pictures of the scene. These would be helpful later, as in a police case and insurance claim.