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National Injury Prevention Day, observed on November 18, is an annual event organized by the Injury Free Coalition for Kids and its partner organizations to raise awareness and promote efforts aimed at preventing injury and violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries and violence are leading causes of death and hospitalization for individuals between the ages of one to 44 years old, making this day an important platform to address this critical public health issue.

Injuries and violence don't discriminate; they can affect anyone, no matter the age, race, or financial situation. During the first half of our lives, Americans are more likely to lose their lives to injuries and violent incidents like car crashes, suicides, or homicides than to other common causes like cancer, HIV, or the flu.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) is participating in the fourth annual National Injury Prevention Day by sharing a few of its initiatives aimed at preventing injuries. KIPRC is dedicated to promoting injury prevention and well-being within our communities, and this day provides a perfect platform for KIPRC to emphasize its commitment to injury prevention. KIPRC encourages everyone to join in these efforts and to work together to create safer and healthier communities.

KIPRC serves as both an academic research center for the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department for Public Health's designated "bona fide agent" for injury surveillance and injury prevention. Through this collaboration with the state and University of Kentucky, KIPRC has access to a wealth of expertise and support in research related to injuries and violence. This encompasses data, services, outreach, communications, interventions, evaluation, methods, and policy development.  Working in partnership with community organizations and coalitions, KIPRC actively implements, evaluates, and promotes interventions to prevent injuries and violence. To sustain this critical work, KIPRC secures annual funding exceeding $8 million through 19 grants and 18 scopes to effectively monitor and address injury-related issues in the state of Kentucky.

In September, KIPRC launched Advancing Violence Epidemiology in Real Time (AVERT), aimed at enhancing violence prevention and response efforts in Kentucky by partnering with state and local hospitals. Building upon the CDC’s previous Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms initiative, AVERT extends surveillance to cover all types of firearm injuries and other violence-related injuries and mental health conditions. KIPRC's collaboration with hospitals will enable the collection of near-real-time data on emergency department visits to identify areas of violence, address disparities, and develop targeted prevention and response strategies. This new program will provide vital data for public awareness and inform strategies to combat violence in Kentucky.

KIPRC’s Kentucky Violence and Injury Prevention Program (KVIPP) conducts injury surveillance and supports as well as evaluates a range of injury awareness and prevention initiatives, such as teen motor vehicle crashes through the Kentucky Checkpoints™ program, injuries and related risk factors among military-connected youth through the Purple Star Award, adverse childhood experiences through Green Dot, impaired driving through law enforcement traffic safety checkpoints trainings, etc. Other KVIPP priority focus areas include suicide, child maltreatment, traumatic brain injuries, older adult falls, residential fire injuries, child home injuries, and substance misuse.

As part of KVIPP’s statewide injury and violence prevention plan, it collaborates with the Kentucky Safety and Prevention Alignment Network (KSPAN) to identify, support, and assess program and policy interventions in priority areas and works closely with partners to shape effective policies and practices. 

Nationally, approximately 60,000 young children visit emergency departments yearly—or about four busloads daily—due to unintentional ingestions. In Kentucky, nearly half of neglect cases linked to unsafe access to harmful items involve medication or illicit substance overdose/ingestion. To combat this issue, KSPAN’s Child Home and Safety Committee provides medication lock boxes, which help to prevent unintentional ingestion, promote responsible storage, reduce the risk of overdose, and discourage substance misuse. These boxes are a simple yet effective way to protect children from the dangers of accessing medications without supervision. In the program’s first year, KSPAN disseminated 1,835 lock boxes throughout the state. In its second year, KSPAN received funding to purchase 3,417 additional lock boxes and educational materials for nine different programs covering 91 counties. Now in its third year, the program has secured funds for 4,155 lock boxes.

KIPRC has programs dedicated to address workplace injuries including the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance (KOSHS) program that collaborates with agencies and organizations to adress safety and health issues affecting workers in Kentucky. Its focus includes identifying these concerns, developing and implementing specific interventions, and evaluating their effectiveness. KOSHS conducts thorough population-based surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses in Kentucky, using more than 30 different occupational health indicators to ensure a comprehensive and data-driven approach.  The program produces comprehensive reports, hazard alerts, and training tools for prevention, all of which are disseminated to share best practices in occupational safety. This initiative is a key driver in advancing workplace safety and reducing occupational fatalities in Kentucky.

National Injury Prevention Day highlights the need to address injuries and violence, and KIPRC is at the forefront of these efforts. KIPRC's comprehensive approach encompasses various other programs to prevent injuries, including Kentucky Violent Death Reporting System and Overdose Data to Action are among many programs at KIPRC collectively working to enhance public safety and well-being. In addition to its ongoing efforts, KIPRC extends a warm welcome to students and faculty members interested in the field of injury prevention and encourages collaboration and research.

To learn more about KIPRC's programs and injury prevention initiatives, click here.