Why you don’t want to meet us by accident this Christmas
Emergency doctors at the state’s largest hospital are pleading with young men to take care of themselves and their mates, as they prepare for an influx of booze and peer pressure related injuries.
Emergency specialist at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s (RBWH) Dr David Rosengren said as many as 1500 men aged 18-25 are likely to present to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Emergency Department over the coming month during its annual Don’t Meet Us by Accident campaign – around half of whom will have an alcohol-related injury.
“But doing something really stupid to impress your mates suddenly doesn’t seem so great when you’re in here with us, and we have to tell your distraught mother you may never walk again,” Dr Rosengren said
While road fatalities and accident trauma will always factor high on the list of emergency presentations during party season, young men are the most likely to end up injured after binge drinking with mates.
“It can start with some guy saying to his mates ‘hold my beer’, yet sadly it ends up here,” Dr Rosengren said.
“We’ve treated young guys who’ve broken their necks jumping from roofs into pools or fallen drunk into campfires. We’ve removed limbs from people who’ve had motorboats reverse over them. We’ve seen head injuries and extraordinary fractures in people thrown from moving vehicles.
“We’ve seen young men survive drowning only to need around the clock care. We’ve worked through the night to try and save people who’ve arrived smashed to pieces after falling from balconies.
“You name it, we’ve seen it. The scope and severity of injuries varies of course, but once you’ve maimed your body like this, or worse, maimed someone else’s, you can never go back.”
From Christmas Eve 2017 to 2 January 2018, 2,277 people presented to RBWH’s Emergency Department, including 176 on Christmas Day, 223 on Boxing Day and another 209 on New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Day proved the busiest across the campaign period, with 267 presentations.
“Things like glassing attacks and coward punches or young men and women kicked out of bars for drunken behaviour – absolutely senseless violence.
“If you could see the tragedy we see, if you knew what it was like to have to explain your injuries to the people who love you most in this world, or if you could experience the pain they feel when they’re waiting to find out if you’re going to be ok, you’d think twice before taking up your mate’s stupid dare.
“We all have families here at RBWH – everyone does – but it just makes it so much harder to see families ripped apart by avoidable accidents when they should be celebrating and spending time together,” he said.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the takeaway message this festive season was to take care of yourself, your family and your mates.
“We absolutely want to see young people out there having a great time, but we are pleading with each and every one of you to remember that all it takes is one stupid decision to change your life, or your mate’s life, forever,” Mr Miles said.
“Our message is simple: if you are having a few drinks, please think about how your actions could impact those around you. Don’t drink and drive; don’t text and drive; allow plenty of time to get to your destination; and please take extra care around water or fire,” he said.
Mr Miles said the holiday period could also lead to an increase in mental health issues.
“The festive season can also be a lonely time for people experiencing severe stress, anxiety or mental illness and may trigger depression and increase the risk of self-harm, so it’s also important we remember to look out for those who are vulnerable,” he said.
Mr Miles is also asking Queenslanders not to clog up the state’s busy EDs with non-emergencies, and head to other medical providers where appropriate, such as your GP, pharmacist or dentist.
“While no one will ever be turned away from an emergency department, people coming in with minor ailments can expect to wait, so please be patient and respectful of our staff.”
“Our emergency department staff are always here to look after people, but our Christmas wish is for everyone to stay safe.
“Please, don’t meet us by accident.”