Guest Blogger: Lee Annest, Ph.D, MS
You see crashes on the roads all of the time, but you don’t ever think it’ll actually happen to you. My wife and I were driving down a crowded interstate in Atlanta a couple of years ago when a speeding car swerved and crashed into our van, and then we were hit by three other cars going 65 mph. The fact that we walked away with only stiff necks and minor injuries seemed like a miracle….or was it? We were wearing our seat belts and our van took the brunt of the impact because of good engineering and front and side air bags. I do what I do at the CDC Injury Center because I believe that little things like wearing seat belts and air bags really do save lives, and I have good reason to believe.
My role at CDC is to help people see facts – data and statistics – in ways that reveal how and where injuries and violence happen, and how they can be prevented. One way we do this is with WISQARS™ (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System), a system that compiles injury data from multiple databases. It produces reports and maps that help people easily identify rates for specific types of injuries, nationally or in certain counties or states, and among specific groups of people. Once people see what the problems are, where they occur, and who is affected, they can target prevention activities to protect people at highest risk. I believe one thing that CDC does best is surveillance, and I know that I’ve helped provide a service to the public by putting injury data at their fingertips.
CDC’s Injury Center is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! In that time, we’ve accomplished many surveillance milestones in addition to creating WISQARS:
- Establishing the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) All Injury Program which monitors causes of nonfatal injuries that bring people to U.S. hospital emergency departments.
- Collaborating with national and global injury data experts to develop standard frameworks for reporting fatal and nonfatal injury data using International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes.
I believe that in the future we will be able to make even greater strides in understanding the root causes of injury and violence, how to best work together to prevent them. With our data collection systems, we can see that geographic and demographic patterns of fatal and nonfatal injury rates for those at high risk are that way for a reason – not by chance – and we all can work together to protect people from injuries and injury deaths.
Where do you think the most crashes happen in your state? Take a look at WISQARS™ and find out!
Dr. Annest is Director, Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, Atlanta, GA. and has over 33 years of federal public health service. Over the past two decades, he has been involved in numerous activities aimed at (1) developing national and international injury surveillance guidelines and standards, (2) improving external-cause-of-injury coding in state-based hospital discharge and emergency department data systems and their usefulness for injury surveillance, and (3) improving the availability of injury statistics for their use in priority setting, monitoring trends, and developing and evaluating injury prevention programs at the national, state and local levels. Most notably, Dr. Annest has provided federal leadership in establishing the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) that provides national estimates of nonfatal injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments and in developing and maintaining the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS™) that provides national and state data on fatal and nonfatal injuries in the United States.