The Norton Sound Region experiences some of the highest injury rates within Alaska, the majority of which are preventable and includes, both motor vehicle related accidents and unintentional fall injuries.
Alaska is unique in its transportation systems from any other state. Many residents in Nome and the regional remote villages travel via all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s). ATV’s are often used for everyday transportation as well as subsistence hunting and gathering. According to the Alaska Native Injury Atlas, all-terrain vehicle injuries remain the second leading cause of unintentional injuries in the Norton Sound Region during 2007-2016 among AN/AI people. All-terrain vehicle injury hospitalizations for AN/AI people in the Norton Sound Region for are also significantly higher than that for all races statewide (15.8 and 5.6 per 10,000, respectively, p<0.050.). In response to the injury disparities in off-road vehicles for the Norton Sound Region, the Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) Injury Prevention (IP) program is seeking funds for helmet use education and distribution and law enforcement. Knowledge of ATV risk will be addressed by utilizing the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s ATV Toolkit that was developed and well-received in the Bristol Bay area. Due to COVID-19, work in the first year will begin in Nome and a limited number of villages, with the plan to duplicate and expand services in villages subsequent grant years.
In the state of Alaska, falls impact the older adult population by being the leading cause of injury death and hospitalization. Elderly have an increased risk of falling and is an inevitable result of aging; but also, in Alaska and the Norton Sound Region we must account for the additional hazards of ice and poor walking structures. Falls are the #1 cause of unintentional injuries in the Norton Sound Region and accounted for 27.2% of all injury hospitalizations during 2007-2016 among AN/AI people in Norton Sound. Injury hospitalizations related to falls are also higher in the Norton Sound Region for AN/AI people when compared to the state (53.7% and 49.5% respectively). Because of this, Norton Sound Injury Prevention (IP) program is seeking funds for Ice Cleats Education and Distribution, Home Fall Hazard Evaluations & Modifications, and a strength and balance course for Elders. Due to COVID-19, the strength and balance course will be focused on in future grant years due to protocols around social distancing and events with this high-risk population. In addition, work in the first year will begin in Nome and a limited number of villages, with the plan to duplicate and expand services in villages subsequent grant years.
With the development of a local Injury Prevention Project, we feel that we can assist in reducing and preventing injuries, increase awareness; deliver educational information and useful interventions in a culturally appropriate manner. If this grant application is approved, it will provide Norton Sound Health Corporation and regional communities with the resources needed to address this need.