May 3, 2013 8:00 PM

When children are injured: Kristi's Kids visit UAMC Trauma Center

TUCSON - Every year hundreds of kids are wheeled into the Trauma Center at UAMC.

It's Southern Arizona's only Level 1 Trauma Center which is where the toughest cases end up.

Injuries from child abuse, near-drownings, A.T.V. accidents and sports injuries are common.

Up to 20% of all the trauma patients at U.A.M.C. are under 18.

Kristi's Kids was provided rare access on a Saturday afternoon in the Trauma Center.

Transported by ambulance, a family involved in a car crash was admitted. A.J. Carillo, 13, was not himself.

"He's got a traumatic brain injury," explains Dr. Peter Rhee, Chief of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery. "He's perseverating. Meaning, he's asking the same questions. Things aren't right."

Dr. Rhee has seen countless cases, just like A.J.'s. Head injuries are a common killer but all the kids on this day were lucky.

Every year about 800 kids come into the Trauma Center.

Carlos Soto is 10-years-old. He suffered an injury to his head when he was bucked off a steer.

"And then my helmet, it like fell to the side a little bit, and his two back hooves slammed into my ear."

Also on this day, 14-year-old Cody Essig was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in Sierra Vista. He was transported by helicopter.

"He's got a cut on the back of the head and he hit his brain," says Dr. Rhee.

U.A.M.C's Trauma Center is also staffed with an Emergency Pharmacist. This offers another layer of protection in emergency care.

"It's very easy for people to get excited," says Pharmacist Chris Edwards. "And accidentally give the wrong medication or the wrong dose." With a pharmacist directly involved, those risks are greatly reduced.

Dr. Rhee wants to emphasize prevention.

"Helmets for kids, the drowning preventions for kids," he says. "Burn prevention is another large area which really affects children as well."
U.A.M.C. does have a burn program and they want to expand this department.

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