Chief Wray's Blog

Safe Communities Madison-Dane County

April 7, 2014 9:57 AM

In our city there are serious injuries and deaths that occur far too often that we believe can be reduced with a coordinated community-wide effort of agencies working together.  One of these agencies helping to pave ways towards this mission is Safe Communities. 

Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County was founded in 1999 and they coordinate county-wide collaborative campaigns with organizations and individuals that have a significant interest and investment in safety.  Together these organizations and individuals come together to save lives, prevent injuries and make our community a safer place to live, work and play.  Active partners in this coalition include police and fire departments, hospitals and health care organizations, neighborhood associations, faith communities, public health, elder and youth saving agencies and utilities and insurance companies.  Through awareness, education and prevention we can foresee a safer future for those that live in the area where unnecessary deaths and serious injuries are infrequent rather than a daily occurrence.       

Here is what we know about serious injuries and deaths in Dane County:

• The number one cause of death for children under the age of 14 is unintentional injuries.

• The top cause of injury-related deaths among older adults is falls.

• Traffic crashes kill an average of 60 people each year in Dane County. The majority of these deaths could have been prevented through the use of safety belts, reduced speeds and people not driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

• 40-50 people commit suicide each year and more than 500 others are given some sort of medical treatment after a suicide attempt.  It is estimated that 90% have a treatable mental illness or substance abuse problem which can be prevented through treatment, education and support.

Through awareness, education, safety and prevention programs that have been developed or utilized through Safe Communities come some major accomplishments.  Some of these include:

•    Launched a nationally recognized initiative to reduce Dane County's epidemic of drug overdoses.

•    Increased safety belt use in rural Dane County by 4%.

•    Increased motorists yielding to pedestrians at pilot intersections by 30%.

•    Installed 50 pedestrian flag holders at crosswalks.

•    Collected over 6 tons of unwanted and unused medicines.

•    Reduced serious falls among older adults by 10% over 3 years.

•    Trained hundreds of Dane County residents to help someone they know survive a suicidal crisis. 

Awareness and education are key to the mission and success of making our city as safe as possible.  The Alive at 25 program teaches over 300 youth to be safer drivers. This course was designed to prevent the number one killer of teens which is auto crashes.  Safe Communities provides numerous traffic safety, bicycle safety and child safety tips on their website.  They are also instrumental in the "Slow Down Watch for Kids" yard signs and the "Stop on Red" campaigns.  A significant cause of traffic-related injuries occur as a result of someone running a red light in order to save themselves 45 seconds to one minute.  Safe Communities offers many programs and resources to prevent drug poisoning, falls and suicides.

I encourage you to visit Safe Communities website for more information on all their programs, resources and events: http://www.safercommunity.net/index.php

At the Madison Police Department we support Safe Communities and we echo their mission to make Madison and Dane County a safe place to live, work and play.

Posted by: Interim Chief Gaber

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