It was summer in Arizona and just another busy day at work for Erin Deuble. She was a Phoenix-based beer brewer that charged through long days which demanded a equal mix of executing both physical, like lifting 50-pound bags of grain and precise mental tasks. A young professional in the Valley, she had settled into a routine of a busy career with endless prospects for advancement in a booming industry. Erin wasn’t prepared for everything she had worked hard towards to come crashing down around her. She working on a beer tank when a double-stacked empty keg hit her on the crown of her head, causing a severe traumatic brain injury and altering the course of her life.
While stories like Erin’s are tragic, they are also all too common and underscore our need as a community to put serious thought into safety, at home, the workplace, and in our community at-large. To keep thoughts of safety and injury prevention top of mind, we are proud to celebrate the November 18th is National Injury Prevention Day, created to raise awareness of the prevalence of injuries and the wide net of people who are affected by resulting injuries and death. In addition to those injured, others impacted include loved ones, government-funded support systems, and employers.
The numbers are staggering: Unintentional injuries and violence are the number one causes of death and hospitalization among Americans between 1 and 44 years of age. With an annual tally of nearly 300,000 deaths, 2.8 million hospitalizations, and 18.5 million ER visits, the total cost is an estimated $4.2 trillion each year. Every day in the United States, 20 children die from preventable injuries, resulting in more deaths than all other diseases combined.
On a humanitarian level, this is a shame. From a financial perspective, it’s a disaster.
Falls are also the leading cause of brain injuries and trauma. Last year In Arizona, there were more than 66,000 incidents of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), costing the state $1.4 billion for hospitalization, rehabilitation, and lost wages. All told, TBIs were responsible for 24.5% of our state’s Medicaid expenses.
While many of these injuries are predictable and preventable, we can reduce costs by implementing various policies and programs throughout the state. I’m proud to say that we have led the way in the brain injury arena with educational initiatives promoting TBI screening, usage of bicycle helmets, secure firearm and storage, resources for those who have been injured.
This year, more than ever it’s time for a thoughtful look around our home and our workplace to see where we can prevent injuries. This is the intended legacy of National Injury Prevention Day.