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St. Augustine Record: Guest column- Orange Park Trauma Center saved lives

Monday, March 04, 2013

By Danielle Branciforte

Being a young teenager is all about making decisions, big or small, good or bad, and learning how to live with the decisions you make. Unfortunately, sometimes making destructive decisions, which can lead to dangerous consequences, including car accidents or injuries, can result in a life or death situation that is out of their hands. Despite all of the precautions we take to help our youth make smart decisions, there may come a time when a decision results in needing immediate, life-saving help. Here in the Jacksonville area — that means being transported to the Orange Park Trauma Center — where surgeons and staff are specially equipped to treat trauma patients.

As the State Coordinator of Florida Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), I travel around the state educating our youth about living safe, healthy and substance-free lives. Unfortunately, it becomes more evident by the day, that not only do we need preventative organizations, such as SADD, but more life-saving services in our communities. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers in America, usually due to a combination of factors including impaired drivers, speeding, running red lights and a lack of wearing seat belts.

There is an evident, serious need for trauma centers across the entire state of Florida — to treat our friends, families, and students in need of quality trauma care. When individuals are suffering from life-threatening injuries, their chance of surviving goes up an astounding twenty-five percent, compared to if they were taken to a normal emergency room. When someone is involved in a severe car crash, chances are, the level of care available at a standard emergency room will not be sufficient to treat their injuries. We have all seen or heard of car wrecks where first responders must use the “jaws of life” to extract a victim from a vehicle before they are rushed away or airlifted to the nearest trauma center for lifesaving surgery.

For Clay County, the Orange Park Trauma Center does exactly what it is supposed to — it saves lives.

While there is another trauma center in downtown Jacksonville, with the recent population growth and a rise in local traffic, it is imperative to have a second trauma center for emergency vehicles to take trauma patients. Remember, with trauma related injuries the golden hour is critically important. The truth is, without Orange Park’s trauma center residents of Clay County would be on the brink of not making it within critical window.

To say young people who live in these communities need the Orange Park Trauma Center is not an exaggeration. Every day, students’ lives are put at risk in Florida because of the lack of access to trauma care. These aren’t just statistics or fictional stories; these are real teenagers, with real parents, who deserve a second chance at life just as much as anybody else.

For these reasons, and many more, it is so important to have the Orange Park Trauma Center in the Jacksonville area, which has talented surgeons, hard-working and experienced staff, and the modern equipment needed to treat those in need of accessible, quality trauma care. Local access to trauma care is life and death important.

Danielle Branciforte is the Florida Director of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), a peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, teen violence, and teen suicide.

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