The numbers tell the story
In 1969, 1034 people were killed on Victoria’s roads.
In 2017, with almost double the population, that number was 259, an 87% reduction in deaths per capita. Victorians are now taking seriously the prospect of reducing the road toll to zero.
A new book From Roadside to Recovery: The Story of the Victorian State Trauma System details how that grim statistic – 1034 – was a catalyst for sustained action by Victorian professionals, policy-makers, and the public that has made it a world leader in injury prevention and trauma care.
The authors, Russell Gruen, a leading trauma surgeon, and Peter Bragge, an expert in healthcare behaviour change at Monash University’s BehaviourWorks Australia, explain how a lot of attitudes, processes, people and systems had to work together to make this change happen.
Beginning with what became known as ‘the most successful newspaper campaign of the 20th century,’ and the world’s first seatbelt legislation in 1970, Victorians repeatedly charted new territory in health and public policy, especially to counter speeding and drink driving.
In 2001 the system to care for severely injured people received a major overhaul. Politicians, as well as the public, had to be convinced every part of the road trauma system needed rethinking.
Decision-making at the roadside, pre-hospital care, transport, and hospital-based responses and resuscitation were bolstered, supported by deliberate, bipartisan governance and monitoring. The new Victorian State Trauma System halved the risk that anyone injured would die, and became the envy of the world.
From Roadside to Recovery is not just the story of the system’s evolution, implementation and impact, and those who championed it, it is a tribute to the vision, leadership and determination that has saved countless lives. It is a story about which there is much to celebrate, and from which there is much for the world to learn.
A 50-minute radio interview with the authors can be heard here.
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