Trauma Awareness Month: Thoughts from the Child of a Trauma Surgeon
For kids like me, trauma prevention seems like common sense. ‘Wear a seatbelt.’ ‘Don’t text and drive.’ ‘Wear a helmet.’ It seems obvious. Why wouldn’t someone take such simple preventative measures? It’s minimal effort, and the benefits can be major, even life-saving. To me, simple actions like wearing a seatbelt are second nature. But that’s not the case for everyone. Most kids don’t grow up hearing stories of the catastrophic results of not taking these steps. I see the benefits clearly, but not everyone does. It’s hard for me to understand why someone would choose not to wear a seatbelt, but they don’t have the background (or the trauma surgeon father) I do.
I’m not going to deny that there are times injury prevention can be annoying. I distinctly remember a certain visit to a roller skating rink. Being the only kid with a helmet on would have been fine, but add in the knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards that my dad insisted on, and I felt ridiculous. (To his credit, I will note that I was a particularly accident prone kid, but at the time, it was embarrassing.) Some injury prevention feels excessive, and though I know the benefits, there are times when I wonder if the embarrassment is worth the potential protective benefit.
There are some rare things that I believe should stay that way, but there are also many that I think should become far more commonplace than they are today. Sometimes, I notice things and can’t believe that everyone hasn’t adopted them. One example is STOP THE BLEED. I have taken the course and helped my father teach it to students at my school and other locations around Baltimore City. A simple class that teaches anyone to save lives in a crisis, I don’t know why it’s not on its way to become just as normalized as CPR. STOP THE BLEED can be a tool to save lives, but we need to equip more people with that knowledge.In many ways, I am the last person Trauma Awareness Month wants to reach. In my house, every month is trauma awareness month. Instead, May is a month dedicated to reaching more of the general public without connections to trauma. It’s a time to emphasize the potential life-saving impacts of preventative measures, helping everyone see the benefits of making safe choices throughout their lives. In the words of my 10-year old brother Fletcher, “everyone knows not to do stupid stuff, but they don’t know what stupid stuff is.” Trauma Awareness Month is the time to teach people what the smart choices are.