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Trauma by the Numbers: February 11, 2012

Every four seconds someone in the U.S. is traumatically injured. Every six minutes someone will die from a traumatic injury. Justin Woodbury is part of the statistics, but he’s one of the lucky ones.

“I was 16, it was March 15th 1999 and I fell asleep or lost control of my car going in excess of 100 miles an hour.”

His odds of surviving the massive head injury were improved by his proximity to a Level II trauma center.

“I was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers and I was in a coma for three and a half, four days, something like that,” says Woodbury.

The average stay in a trauma center is four to six days; again, Justin was there for a typical duration.

“I believe for a week, close to a week maybe, the details are kind of foggy and then I was transported to a rehabilitation hospital.”

Trauma is the number one killer of people between the ages one and 44. They are mostly accident victims, which make up the bulk of cases in Southwest Florida.

“Most of the accidents we see here are blunt traumas and then blunt trauma basically gets divided down into motor vehicle crashes, motorcycle crashes, pedestrians stuck by an auto, bicycle accidents, ATV accidents, people falling off their horses, boating accidents,” says Dr. Nelyada Fonte, a trauma surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

National statistics show fatality rates drop by 25% when a patient is treated at a trauma center. Lee Memorial Health System’s trauma center is the only one between Tampa and Miami.

“We cover five counties so we’re the only trauma center between Miami and Tampa. There’s five full time trauma surgeons so that’s five surgeons, five counties, that’s a lot of work,” says Dr. Fonte.

And treats more than 2,000 patients a year, one of them being Justin Woodbury.

“Maybe I would have made it if we didn’t have a trauma center this close.”