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NGO aims for ‘trauma culture’ in Lebanon

29 November 2013

BEIRUT: The short window of time between trauma and medical treatment, often known as the “golden hour,” can mean the difference between life and death.

Until recently in Lebanon, there has not been a strong emphasis on this critical period.

But through awareness campaigns and medical training workshops, the non-governmental organization Roads for Life is working to bring a “trauma culture” to Lebanon – something they believe can save lives and boost patients’ chances for a full recovery.

“People don’t think [accidents] are preventable, and when they happen people don’t know how to treat them,” said George Abi Saad, national chairman of the Advanced Trauma Life Support program in Lebanon.

For the past two-and-a-half years, Abi Saad, who is also a trauma, general and intensive care surgeon at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, has been training doctors and paramedics around the country in trauma care.

So far, the Roads for Life courses have trained a total 200 doctors and 90 paramedics from throughout Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq in two-and-a-half day workshops covering how to give rapid intervention care in all trauma cases – from car crashes to war injuries.

It is believed that the right trauma care training can lower fatalities by 40 percent and also greatly reduce the number of permanent disabilities among these emergency patients, representatives from the organization explained at a news conference Thursday morning at Le Gray Hotel.

This sort of training is especially important in a country such as Lebanon. So far this year, the Lebanese Red Cross has responded to over 9,000 car crashes, and the World Health Organization ranks Lebanon 43 out of 178 countries in terms of poor road safety. The country has also seen a number of explosions and gunbattles this past year that have required emergency care.

Roads for Life was created in 2011 following the death of 17-year-old Talal Kassem in a car accident. His mother, Zeina Kassem, founded the NGO with the mission of making sure that every trauma victim would get the best and quickest possible care.

“Everyone should have the right and chance to be saved,” said Kassem, who is working to raise funds to provide more medical training for doctors through fundraisers for the NGO. Each class of 20 doctors costs $16,000.