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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Trauma Program Earns State Funding

The UNC Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Program has received a $300,000 grant to promote education and prevention of traffic-related injuries.

UNC's status as a Level 1 trauma center prompted trauma program manager Michele Ziglar to seek funding for a trauma-prevention program from the N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program. UNC's Trauma Center serves 18 counties and handles about 1,700 traumas per year.

"I went to the Governor's Highway Safety Program and submitted for a grant to develop a safety program," Ziglar said. "Ours is going to be one of the largest in the state. It will strive to see how we can work together to prevent traumas in Orange County."

Ziglar said the gravity of trauma injuries is sometimes overlooked as funds pour into cancer and other disease research. But she said trauma is just as deadly a killer. Fifty percent of all trauma-related deaths occur at the scene of the accident or soon after.

"More people die from trauma than anything else in the first four decades of life," she said.

The money will be for a coalition to find causes of accidents. Ziglar said she believed the accidents that cause trauma injuries often are preventable.

"(The coalition) will tell us things, match city against city, county against county and then pool people together to find out who is at risk and to develop a safety program,"she said. "We strongly believe it is predictable, preventable and can be controlled."

The coalition will include support from the Chapel Hill Police Department, the Chapel Hill Fire Department and Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

Ziglar said the aims of the coalition will be far reaching. One of the prominent issues she hopes to address and resolve is the problem of pedestrian safety on campus.

"I've been here 12 years, and there have been a lot of pedestrian injuries in Chapel Hill," she said. "I get frustrated when I see drivers drive through crosswalks once students have already stepped onto the street. I think the real thing is to try and change behavior."

The three-year duration of the grant gives the Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Center time to start raising awareness. Ziglar is eager for the program to start contributing soon.

"The grant is over a three-year period," she said. "I would hope that by year two we have some studies done so we can get the word out and have some strategies."

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