Accidents on the roads and elsewhere take a huge toll every year in Greece

Some of the many people injured or killed every year in road accidents could be saved if the government dealt seriously with traffic accident prevention and the proper treatment of injuries. «Road accidents are the primary cause of death among people under the age of 40,» said Athens University surgery professors Giorgos Androulakis and Stylianos Katsaragakis before a conference on injury and road accidents last week at the Aigli, Zappeion. They pointed out that 3,000 people die every year in road and other accidents and about 32,000 people are injured, 4,000 of them seriously. As Androulakis said, «Every government has avoided dealing seriously with the problem, because of the heavy economic cost and everything that entails.» He pointed out the lack of a proper system of documenting injuries, coordinating and evaluating measures that are taken, organized health infrastructure and health professionals specialized in dealing with injuries. Katsaragakis presented a draft proposal for road safety based on prevention, pre-hospital treatment of injuries and specialist infrastructure for dealing with injuries. Preventive measures, he explained, include improving roads and means of transport, effective policing of roads and monitoring the physical and mental health of drivers. A key need is to reduce the time taken to transfer casualties from the accident site to hospital, and in creating a coordination center to evaluate each case and decide where each patient is to be taken and by what means. The emergency departments of public hospitals must also be staffed by specialized personnel, said the doctors, and injury centers operating 24 hours a day must be established. The experts proposed the creation of three injury centers in Athens, two in Thessaloniki, and one apiece in Patras, Ioannina, Crete, Larissa, Alexandroupolis and an Aegean island.