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Paramedic’s Corner: Seatbelts prevent death and disability during crashes
Paramedic’s Corner: Seatbelts prevent death and disability during crashes

Ambulance Director Gary Carmack
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (July 12, 2010) — A young woman had just fixed her husband and son a nice dinner. She was distraught, though, because she noticed she was out of bread. She decided to jump in her vehicle and just run up to the store and buy some bread for the meal. It was her final act on this earth.

Over the last holiday season, the July 4 weekend, there were 12 fatalities in our state. Nearly all of those were a result of the person not wearing seatbelts and being ejected out of the vehicle. That is an interesting and scary statistic, if you really think about it: if ejected from a vehicle, one out of every 13 people will have a spinal cord injury, whereas if people stay in their vehicle, only one out of every 436 will suffer a spinal cord injury.

Vehicles provide protection! That is especially true with the designs of modern vehicles. I attended a class taught by a person who works with vehicle engineers and the safety features that are now built into these cars was amazing to me.

To answer those few who say, “Oh, but you can be trapped in the vehicle with the seatbelts and burn up,” that is very rare. I have been working as a paramedic for more than 30 years and in the coroner’s office for more than 18 years and have not seen that, nor do I know of any proven cases of that occurring.

Back to the aforementioned story: that was an actual crash I worked. Of course, to protect the family’s privacy, I will not disclose names or locations. The young woman just wanted to run to the store and grab a loaf of bread for dinner. According to her husband, she usually wore her seatbelt. Apparently, she did what many of us do and thought, “I’m just driving a short distance away, no need for seatbelt.” She had a new truck. All the needed protection was available to her. However, her right steering tire drooped off the road and when she tried to correct it, she flipped over. Her head ejected out the side of the truck just as the vehicle rolled, and the impact crushed her head.

In my opinion, had she had her seatbelt on, she would have survived the crash without any injury. The only trauma to her was her head crushed. That is such a tragedy, and it easily could have been avoided with a simple seatbelt!

If there is anything you can teach your kids, family and friends regarding avoiding crashes and staying alive, teach them to wear seatbelts anytime they are in a vehicle. Also, teach them to never ever drive or ride with anyone drinking.

Also, I must mention two other dangers: speeding and cell phones. People just are driving too fast on these curvy secondary highways and gravel roads.

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