FORT WALTON BEACH — Doctors, first responders, and other stakeholders will speak in support of expanding access to trauma care during a workshop hosted by the Florida Department of Health, or DOH, at 8 a.m. March 8 at the Okaloosa County Health Department in Fort Walton Beach. The DOH is convening workshops across the state to gather public input about strengthening the Florida trauma system.
"Minutes – even seconds – can be the difference between life and death when dealing with traumatic injuries," said Dr. Tama Van Decar, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center's chief medical officer. "A trauma patient's chances of survival increase by 25 percent when they receive trauma care in a trauma center. However, Okaloosa and Walton County currently have no trauma center to serve our residents and visitors in times of crisis."
Trauma patients in these counties are forced to travel great distances to either Pensacola or Panama City. This takes much longer than the ideal "Golden Hour" in which they should receive trauma care. Furthermore, when winds reach 40 miles per hour, access from parts of Walton and Okaloosa counties to a trauma center becomes by increasingly dangerous ambulance and virtually impossible by air transport.
"For this community, a local trauma center would mean faster treatment for trauma patients and that will greatly improve our ability to save lives," said Mitch Mongell, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center chief executive officer. "The expansion of trauma care is critical to communities like Walton and Okaloosa Counties where quality trauma care is nonexistent."