An average of 10 people died each week in Abu Dhabi due to trauma-related injuries last year, primarily caused by road crashes and work-related accidents.
A senior doctor said the emirate's network of government hospitals - operated by Seha - received admissions due to such injuries every three hours during 2020.
Trauma injuries are among the leading causes of death across the emirate.
The stark statistics were revealed by Dr Ahmed Al Sayari, director of medical trauma at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in the capital, during a trauma awareness week at the hospital.
“When we talk about trauma it includes a wide range of things such as road traffic accidents, pedestrian accidents, falls, construction site injuries and others,” said Dr Al Sayari.
“Many deaths happen before patients arrive at the hospital in spite of concentrated efforts by different government departments to reduce such deaths and even though we have seen a reduction in numbers, it hasn’t reached the level that we had hoped for.”
Two-thirds of UAE child deaths caused by road accidents
Dr Al Sayari and his team at SSMC are looking to reduce these worrying figures.
The hospital aims to position itself as a certified level 1 trauma centre, which would allow it to provide comprehensive care for every aspect of trauma injuries, from prevention to rehabilitation.
“Our target is 2025 but we need integration of all the different departments in the UAE,” Dr Al Sayari said.
“The trauma system is like the gears in a watch. There are small parts and large ones but if one of them is out no matter how large or small it is, the watch won’t work.
"This applies to the trauma system. All the entities have to work together and we need them all to be together to create a successful system.”
Road traffic accidents have reduced slightly in number due to stay-at-home measures and remote working and learning practices introduced during the pandemic.
But they remain a huge source of concern for doctors, especially in terms of younger victims.
According to information from Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, two thirds of all deaths from injury of children in the UAE result from road crashes.
This figure is almost three times the global average, the health centre research found.
Some parents still shunning child car seats
A large number of parents do not use car seats or do not install them correctly, said SSMC's child safety officer, Dr Anas Shorman.
“There is awareness, I can’t say there is none at all and there are many regulations in place. However, there are still many parents who don’t use car seats and there are many parents don’t know how to properly use a car seat,” said Dr Shorman.
Some parents he said would place a swaddled infant in a car seat.
“You have to remove any additional clothing like a wrap before you put an infant in a car seat,” he said.
Other factors include not strapping in the infant securely or adjusting the car seat.
“We have also seen mothers nursing while in the backseat of a moving car. If mothers want to nurse their newborn then they have to make sure that the car is parked first,” he said.
"These wrong practices all put the child in danger."
Air ambulance chief calls for better road awareness
Major Dr Ali Saif Al Dhuhouri, head of the aviation clinic at Abu Dhabi Police's aviation department, said the force is often called to help people in road accidents.
“We transport patients either from the scene itself, which we call primary mission, and our secondary mission is transporting patients between hospitals,” he added.
The force mainly covers Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region but will sometimes go as far as Oman for an air ambulance call-out.
“Per year we would have around 95 missions and a majority are transporting patients involved in car accidents. We need more awareness at multiple levels,” he said.