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The Urgent Need for ATV Safety Training in the Rio Grande Valley

DHR Health Saving Lives Through Education

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From L-R: DR. Manish Singh, Chief Executive Officer; Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice-President; Dr. Jeffrey Skubic, Director of Level 1 Trauma Center; Casandra Bravo, DHR Health Injury Prevention Coordinator; Jennifer Volcy, MS, RN, TCRN Trauma Program Director; Sheriff Eddie Guerra; Dr. Olablyl Akala, ER Medical Director and Dr. Monica Betancourt-Garcia, Scientific Director Trauma Research. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
From L-R: DR. Manish Singh, Chief Executive Officer; Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice-President; Dr. Jeffrey Skubic, Director of Level 1 Trauma Center; Casandra Bravo, DHR Health Injury Prevention Coordinator; Jennifer Volcy, MS, RN, TCRN Trauma Program Director; Sheriff Eddie Guerra; Dr. Olablyl Akala, ER Medical Director and Dr. Monica Betancourt-Garcia, Scientific Director Trauma Research. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
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By Roberto Hugo González

In Edinburg, Texas, a concerning trend has emerged that captures the attention of public health officials and safety advocates alike. The Rio Grande Valley, a vibrant community known for its beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities, has dramatically increased accidents and fatalities associated with All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs). This increase is not just a statistic; it represents families altered, dreams derailed, and communities mourning the loss of lives that could have been protected.

In response to this urgent issue, the DHR Health Level I Trauma Center, in collaboration with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, has launched a pioneering initiative to combat this rising tide of preventable tragedies. The free, hands-on ATV Injury Prevention Course is more than just a program—it’s a lifesaving mission designed to equip ATV riders with the critical skills and knowledge to navigate their adventures safely.

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A Surge in ATV Accidents: The Wake-Up Call

Dr. Jeffrey Skubic, Medical Director of DHR Health Level 1 Trauma Center, shares alarming data: “Since 2018, DHR Health has seen a 183% increase in ATV accidents.” These figures bluntly remind us of the inherent risks associated with ATV riding, especially when participants are unprepared or unaware of safety protocols. Dr. Skubic emphasizes, “We can’t simply stand by and allow these accidents to occur.” This statement stresses the collective responsibility to act decisively in this growing crisis.

The ATV Injury Prevention Course is meticulously designed to address the complexities of ATV safety. Adhering to the standards set by the ATV Safety Institute, the course is structured in two essential parts: an eCourse and hands-on training. The eCourse covers critical topics, including the use of protective gear, environmental concerns, and riding strategies. This preparatory phase is crucial, laying the foundation for the practical application of these principles.

The hands-on training, facilitated by licensed ATV Safety Institute Instructors and officers from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, allows participants to practice basic riding skills in a controlled environment. This approach reinforces learning and builds confidence among riders, ensuring they are better prepared to handle their vehicles safely.

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The initiative represents a significant commitment from DHR Health and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office toward proactive community health initiatives. Dr. Skubic’s statement, “Our duty is to treat and heal wounds and do what we can to help prevent them,” highlights a shared vision for a safer community. The program aims to significantly reduce ATV accidents and, most importantly, save lives by focusing on education.

As the first hands-on ATV safety session approaches on April 13, 2024, there is a sense of optimism and urgency. This program is not just an educational opportunity; it’s a critical intervention in a community facing a public health challenge. For those interested in participating, completing the eCourse and registration process is the first step towards making a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

The rise in ATV-related accidents in the Rio Grande Valley is a call to action for all stakeholders. Initiatives like the ATV Injury Prevention Course provide a pathway to mitigate the risk of accidents and foster a culture of safety and responsibility. The efforts of DHR Health and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office demonstrate that with education and commitment, it is possible to save lives and safeguard the future of our communities.

Registered participants are required to take the following:

  • Personal ATV 
  • A helmet that is Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant 
  • Goggles or a face shield 
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeved shirt and pants
  • Over-the-ankle boots
  • The owner’s manual for the ATV
  • Light snack and bottled water (optional)

DHR Health Level I Trauma Center, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the ATV Safety Institute encourage all ATV owners and riders to follow the “Golden Rules” of ATV Safety, which include: 

  • Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  • Never ride on paved roads, except to cross when safe and as permitted by law.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV designed for two people.
  • Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Injury Prevention Division at (956) 362-6285 or by email at c.bravo@dhr-rgv.com.

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