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Annual Rocky Mountain Rural Trauma Symposium held in Helena

Posted at 11:27 AM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 13:27:42-04

HELENA — Hundreds of first responders and medical professionals have been in Helena this week to take part in the Rocky Mountain Rural Trauma Symposium.

Now in its 32nd year, event is hosted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Central Region Trauma Advisory Committee.

“Trauma is the number one cause of death for ages one-to-46 years old, accounting for 47% of all deaths in this age range,” according to Alyssa Johnson, RN, MSN, Montana Trauma System Manager. “In fact, traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for children in the US and is the third leading cause of death for the whole US population,” she added.

The symposium features speakers covering topics including pediatric trauma, sports medicine in rural environments, burn and frostbite care and more.

One of Thursday’s speakers was Pat Goldhahn who founded BuckleUpBlue4Lauren after his daughter was killed after being ejected from a vehicle. He stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt, especially after having the most deadly June on Montana roadways this year.

“I love the Vision Zero goal that MDT has set and I love working with them -- and I hope that we can get close to that. But right now, we’re going the opposite direction of that,” said Goldhahn. “We just need to every time we get in the vehicle go buckle up and just make better decisions while we’re driving.”

DPHHS recommends everyone take basic trauma training given the rural nature of the state and how long it can take before emergency care may arrive.

Rural trauma care in Montana is complicated by geographic isolation, time between injury and discovery and distance to the nearest health center.

DPHHS says due to the vast distances between health care facilities in Montana, all pre-hospital providers -- and even some rural clinics -- need to be prepared to provide initial care to injured patients while simultaneously expediting their transfer to definitive care.

“It is this level of preparation and organization that has been proven to reduce the number of preventable deaths and disabilities,” Johnson added.