St John right behind fall prevention competition

Sarah Martin |

St John Ambulance Officers see many preventable falls, some of which result in severe brain injury or death, and the service supports ACC's Idea Nation initiative which aims to reduce them.

St John Clinical Director Tony Smith says most falls occur in the home, not in the workplace and many of these falls, in particular from ladders and roofs, are avoidable.

ACC estimates falls in the home affected the livelihoods of around 41,000 Aucklanders, 4,600 Wellingtonians, 4,470 Hamilton residents, 4,100 Tauranga residents and 3,260 Dunedin residents last year (2011). The estimated social and economic cost of all falls in 2010 was $1.8 billion and half of all falls happen in and around the home.

Dr Smith says the risk of such falls can be reduced by ensuring ladders are always secured and when possible, paying professionals to do maintenance work on roofs and gutters.

"Falls down stairs due to alcohol intoxication are also a significant cause of preventable injury and death" he says.

To help prevent falls, ACC is launching a nationwide competition called Idea Nation and is calling on all New Zealanders to come up with ideas to reduce the number and severity of falls.

St John is supporting their competition which was launched this week.

"Our ambulance officers are keen supporters of the competition to help drum up some ideas to reduce the numbers of falls they attend," he says.

Many people will be surprised to learn that falls are the leading cause of hospitalisations among the working age population in New Zealand. There is no single cause or reason for the high rate of falls. ACC has listed rushing, wet surfaces, darkness, tiredness, heights, distraction, unexpected hazards on the floor, and alcohol as factors that play a part in falls.

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For an interview with Clinical Director Dr Tony Smith please call Sarah Martin on 0274834199

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