Trauma is an injury caused by a physical force. Trauma is often the result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, gunshots, fires and burns, stabbing, or blunt assaults.
Trauma is the leading cause of death among people 40 and under-more than any other disease or illness. Nearly 100,000 people of all ages in the United States die from trauma each year-roughly half of them in automobile crashes. Children and young adults feel the greatest impact of trauma. According to the national Center for Heath Statistics, trauma (unintentional injuries + homicides) causes:
- 43% of all deaths from age 1 to 4
- 48% of all deaths in ages 5 to 14
- 62% of all deaths in ages 15 to 24
Trauma can strike at any time of the day. Each year, eight to nine million individuals suffer disabling injuries in the United States, with more than 3,000,000 of the suffering permanent disabilities.
Trauma care is a concept that was born from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Response time improved dramatically from World War I to the Korean and Vietnam wars, and so did survival rates. Helicopters run by trained paramedics brought the emergency department to the victim and then transported them to Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units. Civilian resources in the 1960s were primitive by comparison to military emergency medial capabilities, as more people were dying on U.S. streets than in the war. Even today, the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes each year exceeds that of the total number of American soldiers killed in the Vietnam conflict. There was great potential in bringing military medicine home.
In 1966, the National Academy of Sciences and National Resource Council published a report that characterized trauma as “the neglected disease of modern society.” The report recommended that a national trauma association be developed to help reduce trauma’s toll, by pooling efforts of professional and lay organizations to stimulate public and professional education and community service.
In response to this key recommendation, the American Trauma Society was founded in 1968. It is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, the National Safety Council, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.