“The only effective vaccine against the disease of injury is prevention.” J.J. Tepas III, MD

UF Health Jacksonville is home to Florida’s first and longest running Level 1 Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center. With a service area that stretches across 24 counties and 2 states, our reach for injury prevention easily touches tens of thousands of lives each year. With our dedicated surgical staff, engaged nursing staff and community based EMS flight program, UF Health Jacksonville is able to reach far into our communities and provide personalized injury prevention programs targeting injury hotspots.

Under the guidance and expertise of the late Dr. Joseph J. Tepas III, we have strived to greatly reduce the number of pediatric injuries and deaths within our area. Dr. Tepas’ passion for helping the region’s most vulnerable patients stretches back to 1983, when he began his tenure at the University of Florida Health Science Center Jacksonville as an Associate Professor of Surgery & Pediatric Surgery. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the creation and development of the states trauma system and the first pediatric-specific trauma registry (the National Pediatric Trauma Registry). To this day, his initials still reside on one of TraumaOne Flight Services helicopters as both an acknowledgement of his contributions and as a testament to his pursuit of creating a network of access for those who reside in underserved areas.

Since joining Injury Free Coalition in 2003, UF Health Jacksonville has started several prevention programs, many of which are still active today. The success of these programs is due to collaborations with area government agencies, EMS, partner hospitals, rehabilitation centers and others. UF Health Jacksonville uses transparency to discuss the care of traumatically injured children in the region. From these meetings, injury target areas are identified in our community along with injury trends, allowing UF Health to pave the way for new programs to protect the lives of the young.

Highlights of our Prevention Programs:

W.H. A. L. E. (We Have A Little Emergency) Check Created over 20 years ago in collaboration with the Florida Department of Transportation, Community Traffic Safety Team, W.H.A.L.E. check campaign stickers are now distributed throughout the state of Florida as a state wide campaign for child passenger safety education and identification. Each W.H.A.L.E. check sticker sheet contains the following: •2 small whale stickers -These stickers are to be adhered to the sides of a car seat. They alert emergency responders to look on the back to the car seat for an identification sticker. •1 information sticker -This sticker is to be adhered to the back to the car seat. This larger sticker contains basic information about the child -Name, Parent/guardian, emergency contact name and number. •AAP car seat/booster seat recommendations from birth to age 12

Today, the W.H.A.L.E. check program is not only used in our community, but is part of our Little Miracles Hospital tour package and are also distributed in our OB and Family Medicine/Pediatric offices.

Bicycle Rodeos Headed up by our TraumaOne Flight Services flight crew, our mobile “bike rodeo” trailers engage children the act of safely riding a bicycle. This free service allows children to safely learn the rules of the road, while providing a fun and interactive environment. Both children and adults are fitted for free helmets at these events, and are encouraged to bring their personal bicycles for complementary safety inspections. On average, UF Health Jacksonville fits and donates over 500 bike helmets a year. Since implementing this program in 2005, we have seen a drastic reduction in pediatric head injuries from the communities surrounding the hospital.

Distracted Driving Program With the help of our “A Night for Heroes’” council, we have purchased two sets of Distracted/Drowsy Driving goggles. These goggles along with an interactive walking course are an invaluable tool that safely simulate the real danger of texting while driving. This program is in high demand during prom and graduation times of the school year. A brief, yet graphic, AV presentation is presented to students, then they are asked to complete our walking course. Due to the portability of this program, we are now able to bring simulation to our PICU for stable, driving age patients. This program is also a piece of required education for all high school summer volunteers in the hospital.

Walking Safety/Safe Halloween This collaborative program utilizes hospital staff and community injury prevention partners to provide a fun and educational day for several Jacksonville elementary schools. Schools are identified by the numbers of walkers, the neighborhood the school is located in and regional data for bike/pedestrian crashes and/or violent crimes. Most of the schools are in lower socioeconomic areas lacking sidewalks or safe walking paths for the students. The program itself is comprised of a mixture of the following: school assembly, chaperoned walks around the school walking paths, classroom to classroom talks, and distribution of reflective backpacks/materials to be worn while walking/trick-or-treating. The day’s event(s) is tailored to each school’s needs. Law enforcement and fire-rescue participate in the walk around the school, while the classroom to classroom talks are typically conducted by our surgical staff and flight crew. In the past, questions about student safety during Halloween have led to an increase in law enforcement patrol of certain areas of town. Leading to a safer environment for the children. Sidewalk conditions are assessed before this event. Any maintenance issues are brought up to the city traffic engineers for improvements. Several sidewalk projects, lighting projects and crosswalks have been installed in the city thanks to this program and those who volunteer their time to help.

Contact Info

Rebecca I. Melvin, B.S., EMT-P