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THP and Erlanger Encourage Seat Belt Safety

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 10:46 am

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TRACY CITY LANDING PAD SAVES LIVES Eight months after its dedication, the Tracy City Landing Pad is proving to be a big plus in the community. The landing pad allows medical helicopters, such as Air Evac out of Erlanger, to safely land when called upon by local emergency services. The concrete walkway to the landing pad ensures that medical service workers and patients can safely get to the helicopter.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) and Georgia State Patrol (GSP) joined representatives from Erlanger Health System’s Level 1 Trauma Center on Wednesday, April 22, to urge motorists to wear seat belts to reduce trauma cases and fatal crashes across the region. This is the first time both state law enforcement agencies have partnered with the medical community to encourage seat belt safety.

“Our primary goal is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee, and more than half of our state’s roadway deaths are from unrestrained motorists,” THP Captain Jeff Mosley said. “We hope our message today will positively affect driver behavior and increase voluntary seat belt compliance across the state.”

Since 2012, 1,163 individuals have been injured after not wearing a seat belt in vehicular crashes across the 12-county Chattanooga District. There have been 86 unrestrained motorists injured in crashes so far in 2015, and 28 of those injuries occurred in Hamilton County.

“The number of injuries secondary to motor vehicle crashes could be reduced significantly if motorists would just buckle up,” said Dr. Donald Barker, adult trauma surgeon and medical director of LIFE FORCE with Erlanger Health System. “It’s a very effective way to reduce injuries and save lives on our roadways.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol also noted that 12 children who were either unrestrained or not properly restrained in a child restraint device (CRD) were also injured in the Chattanooga District from 2012 to 2015.

“From 2012 to 2014, 87 children from our region were admitted to the pediatric trauma unit for injuries received from not being restrained or improperly restrained in a vehicle,” said Dr. Michael Carr, a pediatric trauma surgeon with Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “We all have a vested interest in the safety and welfare of our children. No child should have to enter the emergency room or pediatric trauma unit for improper restraint in vehicle crashes.”

In the Chattanooga District, 142 unrestrained vehicle occupants have been killed since 2012. Hamilton County suffered the highest number of unrestrained vehicular fatalities with 33 traffic deaths during that time period.

Kristy Hubbard, of Jasper, knows firsthand how important seat belts can be in the event of an accident. Her son, Blake Cooper, a sophomore at South Pittsburg High School, was not wearing his seatbelt when the vehicle he was riding in crashed on January 17. Blake spent 14 days in a coma at Erlanger, before he was eventually moved to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for intensive rehabilitation.

Hubbard says that Blake’s survival is a miracle. “We spent 97 days at the Shepherd Center. Blake received inpatient care for 23 days, and was an outpatient for six weeks. When we left, the staff told us it was a miracle for him to be released to go home without needing any type of assistance.”

Hubbard urges everyone to wear their seat belts whenever they are in a vehicle and says a chronicle of Blake’s journey can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1576875979216386/

In the Chattanooga District, 142 unrestrained vehicle occupants have been killed since 2012. Hamilton County suffered the highest number of unrestrained vehicular fatalities with 33 traffic deaths during that time period.

“We are proud to partner with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Erlanger Health System with this important traffic safety message,” GSP Captain Grady Sanford said. “With safety education and traffic enforcement efforts, we hope to see an increase in seat belt usage in both Georgia and Tennessee and ultimately save lives.”