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Summer Safety

Summer Safety: Tips to Play Safe

Summer is the time for fun, relaxation, and enjoyable activities at our beach and resort area communities. Unfortunately, accidents occur, and Beebe Medical Center not only takes care of people when medical emergencies arise, but also encourages them to prevent accidents so that they do not happen.

"So many medical emergencies we see in the Emergency Department in the summer months are from accidents that did not have to happen," says Jennifer Whaley, RN, CCRN, Beebe Medical Center Trauma Coordinator.

Mrs. Whaley cited injuries from bicycle accidents that easily could have been avoided with thought and upfront planning. "Bicycle safety is critical," she says. "People need to know the rules. They especially need to have lights on their bicycles for riding at night and to make sure that they are wearing helmets."

Beebe Medical Center has joined others in the community throughout the summer in bike fairs and bicycle checkpoints where bicycle helmets and lights are given away. In May, for example, Beebe Medical Center joined the Transportation Marketing Association of Delaware, which operates Ride Share Delaware, the Department of Transportation and the locally based International Student Outreach Program to give away helmets, lights, reflectors, and even bicycles during a free breakfast for foreign students held at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Rehoboth Beach.

James P. Marvel, Jr., MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and Trauma Director for Beebe Medical Center, emphasizes how much difference a helmet makes in protecting the cyclist in a collision. "Helmets can save lives. There's no doubt about it."

Beebe Medical Center's Trauma Department also is giving out a Medical Information Carrier System. This small packet includes a luggage-tag-sized form on which personal information and emergency telephone numbers are listed. The form is attached inside the bicycle helmet, and on the outside of the helmet a small sticker is attached. In case of an accident, emergency medical personnel know that important personal information can be found inside the victim's helmet.

Alene Honecker, Injury Prevention Liaison & Patient Care Technician at Beebe Medical Center and a member of the International Student Outreach Program, says that through this bicycle safety effort the number of bicycle accidents involving foreign students has declined. No fatalities occurred in 2006 or in 2005, for example. However, the safety of those who ride bicycles on the busy streets in the beach area during the summer season is still of concern, especially those who ride along Route 1.

Bicyclists are encouraged to follow the rules, such as riding in the direction of traffic, obeying traffic signs and lights, and using lights and reflectors when it is dark.

Swimming accidents of all kinds, including those that occur at the pool as well as at the beach, can be avoided, according to Mrs. Whaley. Beebe Medical Center is among the organizations nationwide encouraging parents to watch their small children carefully when they are at a swimming pool.

"So often when families are at a swimming pool, adults assume that someone else is watching the children," Mrs. Whaley says. "The next thing you know, a child is drowning and no one notices."

Beebe Medical Center, as part of Delaware's SAFE KIDS Coalition, has joined the Safe Kids Worldwide campaign in preventing accidents with children. One of its efforts is to make sure that at least one adult is designated to guard children against drowning.

The Delaware SAFE KIDS Coalition is dedicated to preventing unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death for children 14 and younger. Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among these children.

"Just as a designated driver is responsible for driving safely, the Designated Child Watcher is the adult responsible for actively supervising children to assure that they stay safe in the water," says Chrissy Cianflone, Water Safety Program Manager at Safe Kids Worldwide.

Beebe Medical Center reminds beach-goers and boaters to be careful and to take safety precautions while in and around the water. Body surfers are especially at risk for spinal injuries, as the waves break in shallow waters and throw body surfers head first into the sandy bottom. Boaters also need to remember that drinking and driving is as dangerous in a boat as it is in a car.

When someone is injured in an accident and transported to Beebe Medical Center by ambulance, a trauma alert or a trauma code (depending upon the severity of the injury) is activated before the ambulance arrives at the hospital. Designated Beebe team members are alerted as part of the Trauma Team activation. They include emergency physicians and critical care nurses, as well as respiratory therapists, radiology technicians, and anesthesiologists.

"We had 629 trauma patients in 2006," Dr. Marvel recalls. "We are pleased and proud of how our Beebe team responded."

Dr. Marvel explains that since 1999 Beebe has been part of a statewide trauma system made up of emergency medical personnel, transport organizations, and medical centers. Beebe is designated by the American College of Surgeons as a Level III Trauma Center. Depending upon the severity of the injury, Beebe will stabilize the patient, then send the patient to a higher-level trauma center such as Christiana Care Health Systems in Newark. Christiana Care is the only Level I Trauma Center in Delaware. Patients also are sent to other medical facilities in adjacent states depending upon the injury and the needs of the patient.