240658 Preventing pain in parks: Effective strategies to mitigate unintentional injuries in national parks

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:50 AM

Sara B. Newman, DrPH, MCP , Risk Management Division, National Park Service, Washington, DC
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, more than 137.8 million Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2009. The National Park Service (NPS) serves as a major source of outdoor and wilderness recreational opportunity, with more than 200 million people worldwide visiting 394 national parks. With opportunities for recreating in wild places, there is also increased likelihood for unintentional injury. A recent study documented more than 425,400 emergency department visits between January 2004 and December 2005 due to outdoor recreational injuries. According to NPS data sources, every day an average of fourteen visitors are seriously injured in national parks, and approximately three visitors die every week in parks due to unintentional injuries. Nearly all of these injuries are reported by approximately 100 parks. Leading causes of unintentional death in parks include drowning, injury due to motor vehicle crashes, fall injuries, and exposure due to environmental causes. While the literature has demonstrated that engineering solutions can be effective strategies for reducing hazards associated with high risk activities (i.e. seat belts and car seats, barriers and lighting on roads), engineering solutions are not always an option in park settings where, for example, guardrails around vast canyons, paved pathways, or lighting fixtures may conflict with the park's mission to protect some of the nation's most precious natural and cultural resources. This presentation provides detailed examples of innovative ways national parks have relied on a combination of education, enforcement, and engineering solutions to mitigate visitor injuries without compromising the mission to protect its resources.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe visitor injury in outdoor recreational environments. Explain strategies the National Park Service has used to prevent unintentional injury in park visitors. Discuss case examples that have been effective in preventing injury to visitors in parks and what critical elements made these cases successful.

Keywords: Government, Injury Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because the content describes a major aspect of my work responsibilities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.