firetruckeMay is National Trauma Awareness Month and the perfect time to highlight the real improvements made possible by our dedicated trauma stakeholders. It’s also an ideal time to discuss the continuing impact of falls in our elderly community.

This year’s Trauma Awareness Month theme is “Safe Steps for Seniors,” focusing on preventing falls in seniors. Falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths among those 75 and older. Each year 2.5 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. In 2014, nearly 7,000 seniors were treated for fall-related injuries in Arizona’s trauma centers.

Through the combined efforts of evidence-based injury prevention measures and an integrated EMS and trauma system have made real progress in Arizona. The number of injury deaths between 2006 and 2014 decreased by 16 percent and Arizona’s trauma mortality rate decreased by 29 percent. Take a look at the Arizona Injury and Trauma Mortality Report 2006-2014 for details.

Several related factors contributed to this reduction, including injury prevention initiatives, more rural trauma centers, enhanced data collection, implementing best practices for treating head injury, and engineering safer roads and vehicles.

Unintentional Falls were the leading cause of injury-related mortality among Arizona residents 65 years and older. Of the 1,146 deaths from unintentional injury in this age group, 70 percent were attributed to falls.

I am privileged to recognize the dedication and skill of Arizona’s trauma professionals, working in hospital emergency departments, trauma centers, fire departments, ambulance services. Your service to Arizonans is greatly appreciated. For information on falls prevention, contact the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition.