Falls identified as top priority for safety coalition

Duane Hicks

Falls, substance abuse, motor vehicle safety, and violence have been identified as the top injury prevention priorities for the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition over the next three-five years.
The prioritization of injury prevention initiatives and subsequent follow-ups are the result of the safety coalition’s strategic planning session held March 31, which was attended by about 40 delegates from across the district.
A total of eight areas were ranked as follows (from highest to lowest priority): falls, substance abuse, motor vehicle safety, violence, burns, unintentional accidents, overexertion, and poison.
The ranking for each area was determined by the delegates based on quantitative considerations, as well as qualitative ones.
Quantitative considerations are based on statistical data on the frequency of incidents and where they occur, explained RRVSC administrative co-ordinator Grace Silander.
“The top location for injuries was actually the home, and second was sports centres, which would be athletic injuries and things like that,” she noted.
“It was very interesting when you look at where the actual things are happening.
“Out of that, we have found we can maybe zero in better on locations of MVCs [motor vehicle collisions], like exactly where the location is, so we can start targeting this corner or that corner and reducing injuries in that way.”
After priorizing the areas on March 31, the delegates then worked to identify volunteers and groups who wish to work on each safety initiative, as well as potential partners for the safety coalition to work with on each initiative.
“Our next step is we’re probably going to have to pull the groups in that we have identified as organizations that fit into the different categories, and do a facilitation again to find out what is going on currently, what we can elaborate on and what we can enhance, what additional things have to be done,” said Silander.
“As with many other things, people don’t know who’s doing what, when, and how,” she stressed. “I think it’s time to do a communications session and get that information out there.
“I am almost positive what’s going to happen is we will have to do some facilitation in the different groups, and I am truly hoping we can get a subcommittee going in the different groups that can pull this facilitation together, with the help of the safety coalition in the background.
“We have got a lot of work ahead of us,” Silander admitted. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I don’t think we’ll get this over with in a day, either.
“But we will get things going,” she pledged.
She added anyone who could not make the March 31 planning session can check out information posted on the RRVSC’s website at www.safetycoalition.ca
While falls, substance abuse, motor vehicle safety, and violence were identified as the top priorities for the safety coalition’s strategic plan for the next three-five years, the other areas will not be ignored and, in fact, often are inter-related.
For example, substance abuse can lead to violence, accidental injury, burns, falls, and so forth.
“The other ones are there for a reason,” said Silander. “If we can find programs that we can get up and rolling on those, we will also do that.”
Silander said while Safe Communities Canada recommends its communities do a strategic planning session every three years, it’s more realistic to look at the priorities and goals in a three- to five-year timeframe.
“It takes a while to get things going,” she conceded. “I don’t think we’re going to see a huge difference in the first three years.
“Let’s face it, when you start modifying behaviours, you start with the younger groups as they come up,” she noted, adding the safety coalition has been heavily promoting car seat and seatbelt safety for the past 10 years, and now adults and children automatically buckle up and use car seats.
“I can see our priorities stretching into five years,” Silander said. “However, that’s not to say something else is going to jump into the forefront and get us working on that, as well.”