SSM Health Medical Minute – Level 1 Trauma Center sees increase in patients during summer months

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – As a leader in trauma and critical care education, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center in the region. 

Dr. Carl Freeman, a SLUCare trauma surgeon, says summertime means traveling, vacation, and doing fun outdoor activities, but that can also mean boating accidents and, especially in Missouri, an increase in drownings.

Dr. Freeman warns that All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) accidents are also extremely common, especially in side-by-side ATVs. He sees many very serious injuries resulting in the mix of ATVs with alcohol or driving ATVs without helmets.  

“We have seen an increase in young people coming in with injuries related to riding ATVs on city streets or within the city limits of St. Louis,” he said. “Mainly blunt trauma. Spinal cord injuries, multiple orthopedic injuries, injuries to intraabdominal organs such as spleen and liver, and traumatic brain injuries.”

In addition to ATVs, he says, “Especially in summer, we see a lot of swimming accidents. Young people diving into pools or water too shallow, and get cervical injuries.” 

Dr. Freeman says injury types have not changed over the years but the summertime season does mean an increase in trauma injuries. He says supervision and using common sense when participating in summer activities can help prevent traumatic injuries and, of course, “wear a helmet.” But SLU Hospital also offers community outreach programs to help teach the public what to do in emergency situations where someone is injured and severely bleeding.

Haley Strebler is an RN and the injury prevention and outreach coordinator. She hosts “Stop the Bleed” classes to teach the public how to make a tourniquet, using the shirt off their back to pack a wound, and how to apply direct pressure to save a life. Haley says minutes count when someone is bleeding. 

“Someone who is severely bleeding can bleed to death in as little as five minutes,” she said. 

To find out more about trauma and injury prevention services, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.

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