Emergency Health-Care Facilities in South Africa Are Overflowing with Road Traffic Crash Victims, and They Are the '"Lucky Ones" Who Reach the Hospitals

Article excerpt

Emergency health-care facilities in South Africa are overflowing with road traffic crash victims, and they are the '"lucky ones" who reach the hospitals.

Up to 80 percent of road fatalities here occur at the crash scene or before patients reach hospital, compared with about 30 percent in high-income countries. Road accidents are preventable, and even after a crash, deaths are preventable and the impact of injuries can be mitigated by timeous and effective emergency care.

The SA Road Federation and the Road Traffic Management Corporation convened a gathering of road safety experts in Pretoria on June 7 and 8, drawing on South African and international expertise. The five pillars of action for road safety, as put forward by the UN's Global Decade of Action for Road Safety, provided the framework for the discussions. The five pillars are: road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response.

Delegates were involved in forming recommendations around these issues to inform South Africa's road safety future.

What was unique about this gathering of road safety experts was the inclusion of post-crash response in the discussion. Up until now, the importance of the post-injury phase has been largely ignored. This phase is not only the domain of emergency health-care workers. Road traffic engineers can play a vital role in facilitating access of emergency response teams to crash scenes by designing emergency lanes or including messages on roadside information screens regarding the positions of emergency vehicles.

Road incident management after a crash involves many disciplines, including traffic officials, the police, the fire department and emergency health-care workers. …