New Year revelry injures 599

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

MANILA (Updated) - Fireworks and gunfire in celebrations for the New Year in the Philippines injured nearly 600, officials said Wednesday.

Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said 50 hospitals nationwide reported 599 injured patients from December 21 to January 1, a 43 percent jump from the same period last year.

Based on the Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) report, no less than 589 (98 percent) of the total number of injuries were caused by fireworks and firecrackers.

Last year during the same period, there were 409 (98 percent) injuries due to fireworks.

“There are still many who will still use fireworks and firecrackers so we still expect the number to increase in the coming days. At this very moment, someone may be lighting up a firecracker that did not explode last night,” said Tayag.

2014 New year revelry injury
A teenager is wheeled into the emergency room after being injured in a firecracker explosion following the raucous celebration to welcome the New Year Wednesday January 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. Traditionally, Filipinos welcome the New Year with fireworks and firecrackers and making the loudest noise possible, including indiscriminate firing of their guns which sometimes result in injuries and deaths. (AP)

Majority of the injuries this year were caused by Piccolo, despite being declared illegal several years ago, with 267 (45 percent).

“Piccolo has been banned for several years already but still remains available in the market,” said DOH Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa.

Other firecrackers that caused a lot of injuries are unknown firecrackers with 76; kwitis with 56; 5-star with 27; and plapla with 21.

There were eight cases of injuries that required amputation while the other 504 (84 percent) did not require any amputation of limbs. Eye injuries totaled to 86 (14 percent).

The injuries requiring amputation were respectively caused by Super Yolanda, Camara, Plapla, Super Lolo, Rebentador, and Bawang, and two more from use of unknown firecrackers.

Tayag said one of the worst cases is that of a 14-year-old male from Cebu, whose right hand was amputated after he used “Super Yolanda” firecracker. The name of the firecracker was derived from the name of the super typhoon that hit the Philippines in November.

Another lamentable case is that of a 48-year-old male from Cebu also, whose right hand was also amputated after using onga-onga.

“Fortunately, no near-death injuries we have encountered so far,” said Tayag.

DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin attributed the increase in the number of injuries to the accessibility of the firecrackers, including illegal ones, to the public.

“We have the laws in place. So what we need is for proper enforcement of the laws, which needs the help, not just the national government but also of the local government,” said Garin.

Herbosa believes the parents may have helped preventing injuries to children.

“As long as there are buyers, it (illegal firecrackers) will find its way to the market. So it might be god if the parents will really be strict in preventing their children from buying and using Piccolo,” said Herbosa.

Among those injured, it was also revealed that 214 (36 percent) are only passive users, or those that were not directly handling the firecrackers.

As to the stray bullet cases, the DOH reported a total of nine cases, but all patients were already discharged. There were also nine cases of stray bullet injuries in 2013, according to DOH records.

Last year a stray bullet victim was the lone fatality, a 2-year old female from Pasig City, who had an abrasion on her forehead.

Tayag also said they removed from the stray bullet injuries list the 40-year-old female from Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City after they found out that it was a case of domestic violence.

The stray bullet injuries are verified first by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Meanwhile, a one-year-old male was admitted at the St. Luke’s Medical Center after ingesting a used Pop-up while playing outside their house before Christmas Day. In welcoming 2013, there was also only one case of fireworks ingestion.

Despite the higher number of fireworks-related injuries, health officials were upbeat at the success of their campaign against the use of firecrackers.

Garin said they welcome the developing attitude of Filipinos to immediately bring their relatives hit by firecrackers to the hospital regardless if it is a minor injury or not.

Herbosa, meanwhile, said that the injuries reported this year appear to be “milder” than the previous years.

“Maybe it also helped in preventing massive injuries that we have laws limiting the strength of the firecrackers. Injuries were relatively milder this year,” said Herbosa.

DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Roland Cortez said cases reported at the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) are mostly minor.

“The numbers may be bigger but they are not as complicated as before. They were immediately sent home after treatment,” said Cortez, who is also the EAMC Medical Center chief.

The DOH is set to continue its APIR reporting until January 5, said Tayag.

Garin said the DOH will again call for a inter-agency and multi-sectoral meeting to assess the conduct of the New Year celebration and discuss steps to take to lower the injuries by next year.

“But this early, we are already looking at continuously pushing for the holding of the community-based fireworks display so we can really avoid these injuries,” said Garin. (HDT/Sunnex)

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