Holiday safety urged to curb emergency mishaps

| December 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Tripler Army Medical Center logoKristi Hayashida
Tripler Army Medical Center
HONOLULU — The holidays can be a hectic time of the year for emergency rooms at any major hospital.

Tripler Army Medical Center, also known as TAMC, is no exception.

According to Nika Long, officer in charge, Emergency Department, TAMC treats approximately 140 patients daily in the ED, and this number can increase by 20 percent during any major holiday season.

Col. Michael Miller (center right), assistant chief, Emergency Department, TAMC, performs an ultrasound on the right side of the SimMan 3G, patient simulator, while he leads a trauma care assessment during a mock simulated trauma activation in TAMC’s Emergency Room, Jan. 12.

Col. Michael Miller (center right), assistant chief, Emergency Department, TAMC, leads a trauma care assessment during a mock simulated trauma activation in TAMC’s Emergency Room in 2012.

Holiday emergencies
Long explained that some of the top reasons for increased emergency room patient visits during the holidays can include colds or viruses, food poisoning, traffic accidents involving alcohol and feelings of hopelessness from depression.

Primary care facilities are typically closed during the holidays, so many patients turn to the emergency room or urgent care centers for treatment of common cold and flu symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best thing you can do to prevent the common cold and flu during the holidays is to schedule early check-up exams, screenings and ensure your vaccinations are up to date.

Another reason the ED sees an increase in patients is that large meals provide ample opportunity for foodborne illnesses to wreak havoc.

Food poisoning isn’t always the cause for an emergency room visit, but it could lead to dangerous levels of dehydration that should be treated immediately.

“Proper cooking methods, hand washing and safe storage of leftovers are key to preventing food poisoning,” said Long.

Make sure your Christmas tree is not a fire hazard this holiday season. (photo courtesy graphic)

(courtesy photo)

Moderation, please
Throughout the holidays, between family gatherings, holiday parties and general celebrations, temptation comes in many varieties from mixed drinks, champagne and wine and a beer.

People may overindulge during the holidays, which can lead to a number of different incidents.

“Patients are admitted into the emergency room for alcohol induced motor vehicle accidents, fights, etc.,” Long explained. “It is important that you don’t overdo it.”

The CDC stresses the importance of drinking responsibly to avoid injury or serious blows to your health. The short-term effects of alcohol can hinder decision-making skills, lower reflex and response time, and worsen the symptoms of depression that could ultimately lead to negative long-term effects.

Because Hawaii is so far from the mainland, many service members are not able to afford to go home and be close to their families. They, therefore, may spend the holidays alone. This loneliness can lead to depression, and as a result, TAMC’s emergency room commonly sees an increase in visits from people who have suicidal ideations or depressive behavior.

“One of the most difficult things to do during the holidays is to step outside of yourself and allow the people around you to carry you the way waves carry driftwood,” said Lt Col. Eric Meyners, TAMC chaplain. “It is important to know that the military family is truly a strong family and can be there for you any time.”

Do not let safety take a back seat to celebration as the holidays approach. Be cautious of your health and food preparation. Drink responsibly and reach out to others for comfort and support.

Additional Help
For more information on holiday safety, visit
If you are concerned with suicide, depression or simply need someone to talk to, contact the crisis hotline at (808) 832-3100 or 1-800-273-8255.

TAMC Tip: Wash your hands!

Hand washing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. It involves five simple and effective steps – think wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.
Take these steps to help protect yourself and others against the spread of germs.
•If soap and clean running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.
•Wash your hands:
•Before, during, and after preparing food.
•Before eating food.
•After using the bathroom.
•After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who
has gone to the bathroom.
•Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
•After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
•After handling an animal or animal waste.
•After touching garbage.
•Before and after treating a cut or wound.
•More frequently when you or others are sick.

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Category: Community, Health

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