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HEALTHWATCH: Alcohol related accidents

Drinking and driving can have serious, and possibly deadly consequences.
Escambia County is leading the state in the amount of alcohol related injuries and crashes.
 
Two locals who are on the front lines of treating the victims
Sacred Heart  Hospital Doctor Stephanie Duggan is a veteran emergency physician.

She says there are several time periods that produce the highest rates of alcohol related trauma.

Festival and event weekends, the early morning hours between 2 am and 4 am   and holiday weekends.

(("I'd say, probably on the holiday weekends, roughly twenty to twenty five percent of the injuries that we see are related to alcohol in some way."))
   
Some common alcohol related injuries include falls, burns and poisonings.
Duggan says  binge drinking -- having four or five drinks in one sitting -- causes the most damaging kinds of trauma.

(("A sudden, major injury.  The life devastating ones are the diving injuries which we see here at least one or two a year."))

Pensacola Firefighter and EMT Gary Creel says First Responders approach each accident scene sizing up whether or not the victims are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

He says knowing that helps establish the patients state of mind and which medications their bodies can tolerate.
   
He says alcohol has played a role in two of the more bizarre accidents he remembers.
(("A bicyclist that had way too much to drink and chose to ride his bicycle ended up hitting a pole and got a pretty good laceration to the head as a result of it."))
   
The other involved the Veterans Memorial Park  at Wall South on Bayfront Parkway.

(("Drove underneath the helicopters blades and off the top of the wall.  Looked like a scene out of the Dukes of Hazard."))
Without the stunt doubles.

(("The driver had some leg injuries and the passenger had some mental trauma."))
Duggan says each accident patient is screened for alcohol and other substances.  If detected they're then referred to the county social work system or other treatment and counseling sources.

Duggan says sometimes an alcohol related accident will prompt people to get help.  A dramatic wake-up call of sorts.
   
(("The next 24-48 hours when all the alcohol gets out of your system when the realities set in of about what the injuries actually are and that this is gonna hurt a whole lot to get everything back to working order."))

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