Wisconsin's trauma care providers and EMS responders know first-hand the human toll exacted by traumatic injuries. It is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of one and 44. Traumatic injuries killed 3,231 people in Wisconsin during 2003 alone. For every two people who die of traumatic injuries, an estimated six are permanently disabled.
Traumatic injuries increase the demand on Wisconsin's healthcare resources. A fourth of all Emergency Department visits are related to traumatic injuries. In 2002, there were 934 injury-related hospitalizations per 100,000.
The state's economy suffers as well. Injury causes more years of lost productivity than cancer and heart disease combined. The estimated cost of motor vehicle crashes in Wisconsin alone is $2 billion annually.
During the 1990s, national and state evaluations of Wisconsin's trauma care data trained the spotlight on the need for a statewide system of integrated trauma care. A system approach will help ensure that traumatic injury patients receive optimum care - from EMS dispatch through rehabilitation - regardless of where they are located in the state.
Based on reported experience of states with mature Statewide Trauma Care Systems, the Wisconsin System has the potential to prevent up to 15% of injury deaths and save up to 650 lives in one year.
Integration of injury prevention activities within the Regional Trauma Advisory Councils (RTAC) to DHS activities
Although the administrative rules for the trauma care system direct the RTACs to develop and implement injury prevention and education strategies based on performance improvement findings, there has not been direction at the department level to support the activities. Linkage to Wisconsin's Injury and Violence Prevention program and the emerging strategic plan for Injury and Violence Prevention has just begun. Trauma and EMS are also reflected in the Violence and Injury Focus Area of the state's evolving strategic health plan known as Healthiest Wisconsin 2020: Everyone Living Better, Longer.