Pressure on Government to establish effective post-crash care system

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is calling on the Government to establish an effective post-crash care system to transport people involved in road crashes to hospital effectively and safely.

Speaking at a Ministry of Transport and Mining road safety seminar on Tuesday, Sergeant Craig Bonitto argued that members of the JCF are not trained to treat or transport injured crash victims, and do not have the authority to actually care for these injured persons.

“I am fully aware that it is human nature to help those who are helpless and in distress, so the police will go above and beyond the call of duty and actually try to remove these crash victims from motor vehicles to take them to the hospital as quickly as possible and we will try to administer first-aid,” said Bonitto.

But he argued that this is not enough.

“I just want to appeal to the powers that be to actually put an effective post-crash system response to transport these persons to the hospital and this in itself will minimise the risk of untrained persons using their natural instinct to try and assist these victims, which most times cause further injury to these persons,” added Bonitto.

He noted that many persons mistakenly place the responsibility of transporting accident victims from the scene to the hospital on the police, but pointed out that this is not the police’s duty as their vehicles are not equipped to transport injured people.

“Just like how the police are effective in [rushing] to these accident scenes, I would love to see other agencies replicating this behaviour and this will definitely prevent unnecessary road traffic fatality,” said Bonitto as he addressed the seminar which is one of the events to mark Road Safety Awareness Month, which is recognised in June .

Addressing the seminar, acting director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Deidre Hudson-Sinclair, underscored that not all persons present at the crash scene can attend to a victim.

“Post-crash care is a multi-sectoral event, in terms of what happens on a scene and how different players have a different role to play. Not all players can attend to victims who are hurt. For road safety, post-crash care is a critical mandate of ours,” said Hudson-Sinclair.

“The aim of post-crash care is to avoid a preventable death or disability, to limit the severity of injury and suffering caused by a crash, and to ensure the crash survivors’ best possible recovery and reintegration into society,” added Hudson-Sinclair.

Speaking on the United Nations’ (UN) revised Global Plan: Decade Action for Road Safety, to which Jamaica is a signatory, Dr Kurdell Campbell, director of Emergency Medical Services in the Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services Branch in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, pointed to the UN’s hopes to prevent at least 50 per cent of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030, under the five pillars of road safety.

These include road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response.

Campbell noted that people in low or middle income countries account for more fatalities than what exists in First World countries.

“If we were able to make a good dent in the response in our country, we could be salvaging at least half a million persons worldwide,” Campbell commented.

She argued that, “in order for the post-crash recovery to work effectively it requires a number of other key elements that includes research and information, legal support and legislation, collision evens analysis, injury care and mental health care.”

Campbell explained that having accurate data on road traffic incidents could provide preventative measures.

“At the scene of the accident, the crash data, the insurance and the auto industry must be looked at [as] it can inform preventative and corrective measures. No accident means no injuries and no death, so it wouldn’t be a cost burden on our country.

“The research at the hospital level is also important and I’m happy to say that in Jamaica within the health system we do have a number of injury surveillance systems. One of them is the Jamaica Injury Surveillance System, we have the Patients Administration System, both of them were established about 22 years now, and it really provides a good information base for injuries that we see in our country,” said Campbell.

Since the start of the year, Jamaica has recorded 225 road fatalities from 203 fatal crashes. This is well 190 fatalities in 173 fatal crashes over the same period last year.

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