How long have you been a member of AAAM?
Since January 2021.
What inspired you to join AAAM?
As a pediatrician, I study physiology and pathophysiology. In my country, Chile, health providers do not study motor vehicle traffic crashes comprehensively.
AAAM has a comprehensive and holistic vision of motor vehicle traffic crashes, formed by various and renowned specialists from different fields of knowledge, that can join the law of physics with biology, to understand biomechanics; and develop different lines of investigation. This is a great chance to share my doubts and learn. As well, it´s an opportunity to share my experience as a Chilean pediatrician who works in both prevention and treatment of severely injured passenger children.
What are your main areas of interest in the field of Automotive Medicine?
In my country, motor vehicle traffic crashes that involve child passengers are a big problem. I work in a pediatric intensive care unit, where we attend children who have had severe damage after a motor vehicle traffic crash.
Health providers and pediatricians participate in rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of children involved in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Nevertheless, they do not involve in the prevention by means of promotion and instruction of adequate and permanent use of child restraint systems.
I believe that those of us who attend children seriously injured by motor vehicle traffic crashes have an enormous opportunity and the commitment of promoting prevention.
What do you find most rewarding about working in this field?
That we can protect children from an unexpected death or a severe disability, which occurs in daily activities and in an unexpected way and generates inconsolable suffering to their parents and family.
I believe that looking after a healthy return home for our children every day is a great objective and that health providers can also collaborate in this.
What challenges have you faced over the years and how have you overcome them?
The greatest challenge in child passenger’s safety is to convince health authorities and pediatricians that child passengers’ safety should be managed as a “safety chain”, beginning with its first link: prevention and then, rescue, treatment, and rehabilitation.
I believe that child restraint systems work similarly to vaccines. In this case, the objective is to reduce the transferred energy at the moment of the impact, so as to not exceed the biomechanical tolerance and have better results in rescue, treatment and rehabilitation.
The use of child restraint systems should be promoted before the trauma, from pregnancy, birth and permanently during health checks.
What advice would you give to someone interested in this field?
One of our great difficulties in participating in the prevention and promoting the correct use of child restraint systems is that pediatricians are not aware of the subject (in Chile we have 329 Child Restraint Devices that are sold in commerce and these come from USA, Canada and Europe with different regulations, for example, UN Standard No. 129 and FMS 213, which complicates its use). We also carry a wide variety of car makes, models and years of manufacture, making installation more complex. So, they do not promote it in a comprehensive way or omit the subject, because they are not prepared for the different questions from parents or caregivers.
On the other side, we have a high percentage of misuse, over 90% of child restraint systems are used as simply a chair to sit on and not as a biomechanical device that only has a one-second chance during the brutal transfer of energy at the moment of motor vehicle traffic crashes.
For this reason, the Chilean Society of Pediatrics formed the Passenger Child Safety Committee to promote prevention among pediatricians and the next challenge is to try to ensure that hospitals have a Passenger Child Safety Program, with permanently trained health providers.
That way, when pediatricians check on children, they will only delegate them to the child passenger safety program, where parents would be fully informed and use child restraints correctly.
These Child Passenger Safety Programs promoted and developed by healthcare providers do not exist in Chile or Latin America.
I believe that we have a great opportunity to protect our passenger children with the same people who rescue, treat and rehabilitate them after motor vehicle traffic crashes, where the greatest resources are knowledge, will and coordination.