My interest in the prevention of trauma-related head and neck injury  dates from Helicopter retrieval from 1987 to 1990, when I worked as the Chief Medical Officer with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, flying over 1,000 hours and treating hundreds of trauma and medical cases.

My focus on the prevention of head and neck  was prompted both by the number of these injuries I would see (in one notable weekend, 3 separate neck injuries from football) and a growing realisation that pre-hospital education in this area was sadly lacking.

As a doctor, I had received almost no specific instruction in handling head and neck patients, and the equipment available at the time was rudimentary.

In 1990 I published a “Guidebook for the Management of Acute Spinal Injuries” for medical and rescue personal, as well as lecturing locally and Internationally on this topic, and this was followed by “NeckSafe: the Acute Management of Spinal Injury”.

The book was designed for First Responders, be they Basic Life Support (BLS: General Duties Ambulance, Red Cross, Surf Lifesavers, State Emergency Services, St. Johns Ambulance, Sports Trainers and Coaches etc) or trained in Advanced Life Support (ALS: Physicians, Paramedics, Nurses, etc).

Over the next 20 years, NeckSafe became firmly entrenched in the minds and on the agendas of all those associated with pre-hospital care. We have continued the development, refinement and delivery of this program, and are credited as the industry leading trainers of Acute Spinal Injury . Our efforts over the past have prevented numerous SCI’s, making what we have achieved well worthwhile.

Since 2012, NeckSafe has blossomed to encompass the prevention of head and neck injuries using social media, online learning methodology and smartphone apps.

The online HeadSafe course joins NeckSafe as key educational tools to help decrease the preventable aspects of both these injuries.

Dr Adrian Cohen

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