On Wednesday 3 April, a group of Year 10 students went to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) to participate in the P.A.R.T.Y program. The P.A.R.T.Y program stands for Prevention of Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth and is directed at high school (Year 10) students, especially boys. Coordinated by doctors and nurses, the P.A.R.T.Y program aims to educate young people to think about their actions and assess how it might affect their future. Initially, the group was given some alarming statistics:
- In 2018, of all trauma accidents involving people aged 15 to 24, 83% of major trauma patients that were admitted to RPH were males. Thirty-three percent of those accidents involved motor vehicles, and the accidents were due to mobile phones, not wearing a seatbelt and drug and alcohol use.
- In 2018, for people aged 15 to 24, 80% of deaths were related to alcohol and motor vehicle related accidents. On average, five Australians in this age range die each day to an alcohol related accident.
One thing we learnt was that the person in the accident isn’t the only one affected, the family members and friends are affected, and the paramedics and police are impacted as well. The biggest lesson we learnt was that, as young men, when faced with a decision involving risk, to consider the choices available and the possible consequences. This was the key message - to take some time to think about your actions and weigh up the consequences.
We were also taught about spinal cord injuries and how life-changing they are. The analogy that the nurse used was that your spine is like a garden hose and the injury is a kink in the hose. Even though the rest of your spine is okay, the kink blocks all the messages sent from the brain out to your body. We were told that if we have a spinal cord injury we will never be able to dress ourselves, walk around, and go to the toilet by ourselves along with many more everyday things we take for granted.
One of the presenters on the day talked about his story and how he fell off the back of a ute and damaged his skull and brain. The man talked about how his brain took three years to re-wire and become normal again, and that he was lucky to return to his normal self – only with a titanium sheet replacing the anterior part of his skull. This was the story that impacted me the most.
Sadly, the link between alcohol and drugs, and the correlation to violence is strong. A nurse on the day talked about the issues of abusing these substances and how they can affect your brain and make you lash out violently at others. One stat the nurse gave was that 430 Australians a day are hospitalized due to alcohol and drugs.
Multiple people that we saw throughout the day explained to us that drugs can make you think that you can do more than what you are capable of. One man broke his neck and is now a paraplegic as a consequence of this. We also were able to talk to a man who had just been in a motorbike accident. He told us to make the right decisions because you never know when a poor choice can negatively affect your life. The reason that so many young men die prematurely is largely due to testosterone. This hormone makes boys competitive and this desire to be the alpha-male can make people do things that they don’t think about.
Another man we heard from said that he was under the influence of alcohol and saw his friend jump off a waterfall, he tried to be bigger than him and climbed to the top. Unfortunately for him he slipped when he jumped and landed on his neck, breaking the C4 section of his spine. The speaker said that he only did it because he wanted to the “hero”. At the end of his speech we came out with a few key things we should do. When deciding if you are going to take a risk, think of how your parents would feel about you are doing, and the second point was to be wary…it could happen to anyone, including us.
Physiotherapists and doctors at the hospital showed us what life would be like as an emergency and intensive care patient as well as in a wheelchair. The experience was truly life-changing and the group looks forward to sharing the key information learned with our peers back at the College and into the future.
On behalf of the students attending, we'd like to thank to our Head of Year, Mr Jenkin for organising the excursion and to Mr Fritz and Mr Mitchell for giving up their time to support us in supervision.
Oliver White (10.5)
Taylor Hannah (10.8)