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In just a few weeks, on the Nov. 2 ballot, Georgians will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment which will create a $10 car tag fee dedicated to improving a statewide trauma care system.
This constitutional amendment, ballot amendment No. 2, locks in the funds so they will go directly to a dedicated trauma trust fund; they cannot be used for any other purpose. This initiative will generate an estimated $80 million a year that will be used to help train 911 professionals, paramedics, critical care nurses and physicians; increase rapid transport; provide the latest life-saving equipment and technology; and upgrade more emergency rooms to trauma centers.
These measures will help ensure that more lives are saved. They are critical in Georgia, where severely limited access to trauma care results in a death rate from trauma injuries 20 percent higher than the national average.
As a surgeon on staff at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, I see trauma firsthand. While NGMC is not a designated trauma center, the staff and physicians at NGMC treat trauma patients, many of whom come from other communities.
There are many areas of our state, including parts of Northeast Georgia, more than 60 miles away from a designated trauma center. Residents of and travelers through those areas are in great danger; they are outside the "golden hour," the 60-minute window immediately following injury when treatment is most critical.
For children, who are smaller and more fragile, the window shortens to only 30 minutes, meaning even more parts of our state fall into a danger zone. Even those of us who live near a trauma center are at risk when we travel through areas without timely access to these centers. When is the last time you or your loved ones drove down Interstate 75 to Florida? Or down I-16 to Savannah or St. Simon's Island?
Please remember when you vote on this important amendment that distance to a trauma center is a life-and-death issue. We have power to make a life and death difference in our state by voting "yes" on ballot amendment No. 2 on Nov. 2. The life you save may be your own or that of someone who is very precious to you.
Priscilla Strom, MD
Trauma Medical Director, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville