Trauma prevention program succeeds in protecting teens

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The number of emergency room cases where a Windsor/Essex teen or young adult is critically injured or killed in a preventable trauma incident is on a downward trend – and a local hospital program is continuing to educate high school students on how to avoid these tragic situations.

Windsor Regional Hospital’s P.A.R.T.Y. program – which stands for Preventing Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth – began its reality-based sessions for students in 1994, focusing on the dangers of drinking and driving and other risky activity that can lead to significant injuries. The interactive program includes demonstrations of first response by paramedics, former police officers discussing legal consequences of risky behaviour, a multitude of hospital staff demonstrating trauma care, discussions around organ and tissue donation, as well as “role playing” where students play victims and other roles.

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According to Windsor Regional Hospital Regional Trauma Program statistics, injuries related to motor vehicle collisions, sports, falls and intentional harm – involving youth under age 25 at Windsor Regional’s Ouellette Campus totalled 13 in the 2013-14 fiscal year ended March 31st, down from 29 the previous year.

Since its inception in Windsor, P.A.R.T.Y. has educated 4,134 students from 239 schools.

Diane Bradford, Manager of the Regional Trauma Program/Injury Prevention for Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH), is proud of the overall results and expressed thanks to Windsor Police Service, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), physicians, volunteers, injury survivors and parents of fatally injured teens for their support in helping local students understand the potential impacts of the decisions they make.

However, Bradford cautions there’s been an increase in drug use related to motor vehicle collisions. Drug use will be a more important focus for the program in the year ahead.

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In 2011-12, the use of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol, the most recognized ingredient of marijuana – was found in 21 per cent of youth under age 25 injured in patient cases that showed up at WRH’s trauma centre. In 2012-13, that percentage rose to 55 per cent and in 2013-14, remained much higher than two years earlier at 46 per cent.

“There is a sense that drugs aren’t the same as alcohol when it comes to getting behind the wheel, or attempting other risky behaviour,” says Bradford. “We can see by the statistics we have collected that it is becoming more prevalent and, combined with alcohol use is a toxic mix.”

For the 15-20 students who attend each session at WRH throughout the school year, it’s a day packed with interesting information and activities designed to help students become more aware of the importance and consequences of their decisions. They can also directly talk with many knowledgeable people including doctors, nurses, social workers and patients to ask questions, share information, and feel involved.

A student’s day with P.A.R.T.Y. consists of a journey that takes them on a tour demonstrating the difficulties a trauma patient who arrives at the hospital’s emergency department will incur. They experience presentations from multiple members of the health care team including paramedics, Emergency Room Trauma Specialists (nurses, physicians, and respiratory Therapists. They also meet and interact with Intensive Care Nurses, Rehabilitation Therapy practitioners and experienced Law Enforcement personnel.

Participants are directed to think about their behaviours and to learn the consequences of taking risks.  Educational tools are provided to students to take their in-hospital experience from P.A.R.T.Y. and apply it to their daily lives.  They are educated to think about how their behaviours affect those around them as they end their day meeting real injury survivors.  Friends, family and victims of trauma from risky behaviour share their stories to bring a reality based and powerful end to their day.

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P.A.R.T.Y. Program is part of an international program based out of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.  Research has proven the program has long-lasting benefits.  Ten years after participating in the program, it was shown to effectively reduce the incidence of traumatic injuries.

In sharing real trauma statistics and knowledge about what actually happens to trauma patients and their families, the dedicated medical and allied health volunteers in P.A.R.T.Y. continue to educate youth from Windsor and Essex County secondary schools as they have over the last 20 years.  They hope to further their work to help keep youth trauma declining and provide education that participants can use throughout their lifetime.

The website link is: http://www.partyprogram.com/.  Information can also be found on Facebook: P.A.R.T.Y. Program Windsor or Twitter @PARTY_Windsor.