Nationally there has been an increase in recent years in the number of injuries from weaponry such as knives and guns
Antonio Alarcó Hernández, Professor in the Department of Surgery, Ophthalmology and Ortorrinolaringology in the University of La Laguna, has defended his call for an emergency protocol and an emergency plan for the Canary Islands, something which he says will “cost nothing” but could save lives, and is essential.
Professor Alarcó, who is directing a course in multiple trauma victims, sub-aquatic medicine and the use of a hyperbaric installations during the Adeje Summer University this week, says it is absolutely essential that a system of organisation of emergency personnel, both in the public and the semi-private sector, is in place in the region. He pointed out that for every 100 people who attend emergency outpatients in the Canaries only 12 are actually admitted to hospital, in other words he estimates that about 80 % have not been treated correctly in their local centres. If that level of organisation isn’t in operation it leads to a collapse in the system, which does happen now and then.
Examining the subject of multiple-trauma victims visiting doctor Pedro Yuste García, a consultant at Hospital 12 de Octubre, Madrid, spoke of the importance of improving the kind of primary attention these victims receive, considering it was the primary cause of death in Spain among people under-37.
Both stressed the need to improve the kind of training of personnel dealing with trauma situations. They also said it was vital that some kind of training was given not just to health personnel but to the population in general, as in general it was a member of the public who would be the first person on the scene following an accident, and it was so important that they would know the basics regarding what to do and, almost more importantly, “what not to do”. The first few moments following an accident are what will determine the evolution of the victims, known in medical terms as “the golden hour”, explained Alarcó.
Both men made reference to the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) system, a protocol designed in the United States for actions following a multiple trauma incident and which has been shown to be very efficient as it establishes the steps to be taken to prioritise the most urgent cases at each stage. It is gradually being introduced in Spain.
Another issue being addressed is the creation of a register of multiple trauma incidents that happen annually – age, type of accident, patient details, severity of injury, etc. While it might be seen as arduous, it is the kind of additional data that allows the medical experts know which cases are the most frequent and thus establish an designed approach and interventions most suited.
Yuste pointed out that the majority of multiple-trauma incidents were caused by traffic accidents. He also said there had been an increase in recent years in the number of injuries from weaponry such as knives and guns, which now accounted for between 12 – 15% of cases presenting at hospitals, although this had not reached the kind of levels seen commonly in the United States.
Regarding Hyperbaric medicine, which is the other aspect of this course, Alarcó said the Canarias was actually one of the most regarded diving locations in Spain, with one of the most important free-diving schools internationally, and a centre of this kind couldn’t exist without hyperbaric medicine. It is also legally important to have this kind of medical installation if a location wishes to operate top-level airports, industrial ports and refineries.