When the Utah Department of Health launched its injury prevention programs 30 years ago, it was one of only five states to do so. The first program focused on school injuries, specifically figuring out when, where, how and why the who (children) are injured at school. To do so, the Student Injury Reporting System was implemented and it is still used today. The data gathered is used to make changes such as installing safer playground equipment, implementing safety protocols in hands-on classes like shop classes, ceramics classes, and the like.
As time has gone by, other programs have been developed to address the top five injuries that result in Utah deaths:
- Prescription drug abuse and overdoses and other types of poisoning
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Unintentional suffocation
Today, the Utah Department of Health identifies their Mission as:
The Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program is to be “a trusted and comprehensive resource for data and technical assistance related to violence and injury. This information helps promote partnerships and programs to prevent injuries and improve public health.
“To accomplish our mission, we collaborate with many partners to:
- Collect injury data and conduct injury research.
- Conduct education to increase awareness of injury causes and prevention.
- Support legislation and enforcement efforts that reduce injury hazards and increase safe behaviors.
- Plan and implement community-based injury prevention programs and activities.”
In recognition of their efforts over the years, the department created a timeline to highlight major injury prevention efforts:
- 1996 – Seat-belt law enacted.
- 1997 – Implementation of statewide, 24-hour toll-free hotline for rape and sexual assault crises and information.
- 1999 – Adoption of graduated driver licensing laws aimed at reducing traffic fatalities for teens ages 15-17.
- 2008 – Adoption of law requiring children younger than 8 and less that 57 inches tall be in an appropriate car or booster seat.
- 2008 – Launch of “Use Only As Directed” campaign to promote the safe use, storage and disposal of prescriptions.
- 2013 – Adoption of law allowing those in a dating relationship to obtain a protective order when a dating partner is abusive.
All in all, it is a pretty impressive track record.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.