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On the type of injury:

DANGER"The available literature reveals an overall fatality rate of 15 to 17%, a similar rate of major amputations. The injuries surpass by far those seen in other motor vehicle accidents, and some authors compare the resulting wounds with those seen on the battlefield. The wounds produced by this mechanism are chopping, cutting, penetrating injuries produced by an extremely powerful fast moving, repetitive force that results in multiple, severe blunt and/or sharp disruptions of both soft and bony tissues." (1)

"Boat propeller injuries, if not fatal, are usually severe and disfiguring resulting in prolonged disability and permanent impairment requiring costly medical, surgical and rehabilitative services." (2)

Dr. Charles T Blount testified in the Matthew Beech v Outboard Marine Corp that propeller lacerations are more invasive to nerve damage and blood loss than blunt trauma from being hit by the boat. (3)

On the propeller danger:
"The mechanism of production of propeller injuries is unique and very complex.... Rotating at a high speed and with a very powerful torque, when a propeller makes contact with a body it will result in multiple impacts of great force by the moving and advancing blades of the propeller. A typical three blade propeller running at 3,200 rpm can inflict 9,600 impacts in 1 minute or 160 impacts in 1 second. ... A 13 inch blade can travel from head to toe in an average person in less than one tenth of a second." (1)

"When propeller injuries occur, the resulting complex wounds are immersed in water that is contaminated to greater or lesser degrees. This results in gross contamination of the severely traumatized tissues with unusual water bacteria." (3)

Healthcare providers:
"As a healthcare organization, our hospital - and its Emergency Department, in particular - experiences first hand the devastating effects of numerous propeller-related injuries each year. It is not unusual for us to receive several of these types of injuries over a single holiday weekend. Moreover, the severity of these injuries tends to be very high, spanning the continuum from death, dismemberment/amputation, to complex orthopedic injuries and severe lacerations involving substantial blood loss, shock and requiring extensive surgical repair." (4)

"The societal and personal "costs" of these acute traumatic injuries is significantly underestimated, in my opinion... These types of physically and economically devastating injuries are, at least in significant part, preventable...." (4)

Public safety advocates:
"Public health practice in injury control has demonstrated that the most effective means of preventing product-related injuries is to modify the product rather than attempting to alter the behavior of millions of consumers." (5)

"Both as a student of public health injury and a practicing lawyer, I have seen the consequences of contact between a person in the water and an unguarded motorboat propeller. Typical victims suffer multiple, deep open wounds inflicted by the spinning blades ... Propeller guards can greatly reduce the incidence of injury and death, by interposing a barrier between the potential victim and the spinning blades of the propeller. Propeller guards have been available for over fifty years, yet neither of the two primary African manufacturers of motorboat engines include them on their products."

"Legislation and regulation are the most direct, efficient and effective means of establishing safety standards for unsafe consumer products. /Where industry interests and consumer interests clash/ product liability litigation, though a blunt tool of last resort, has been an important force for consumer protection in this century. Such suits can directly lead to design changes, or can weaken industry resistance to design regulation."

"I urge you /Coast Guard and NBSAC/ to accept the responsibility that comes with your charge, and to require the industry which profits from the sale of dangerous propellers to make their products safe by installing propeller guards." (6)

(1) "Motorboat Propeller Injuries," copyright l998 Lippincott-Raven Publishers. Article by Miguel Mendez-Fernandez MD, FACS, FICS.

(2) "Motorboat Propeller Injuries," The Journal of the Florida Medical Association, June 1987, Vol 74, No. 6 by Charles T Price, MD and Charles W. Moorfield, M.D.

(3) Deposition August 29, 1989 of Dr. Charles T. Price. Including exhibits by Drs. Hummel and Gainor, "Waterskiiing Related Injuries"; Dr. Mann "Propeller Injuries; "Power Boat Injuries to Swimmers" Australian Medical Journal; and, Sleight "Speedboat Propeller Injuries"

(4) Former Administrator, Dennis Zielinski, VP C.E.O. Havasu Samaritan Hospital, letter of July 10, 1995

(5) "Motorboat Propeller Injuries" John Hopkins University Injury Prevention Center and the Institute for Injury Reduction, Jon S. Vernick and Assoc.

(6) Testimony to NBSAC, April 29, 1996, San Francisco, Ca. by Eric Gorovitz, J.D., M.P.H., Legal Director, Trauma Foundation.

S.P.I.N. Stop Propeller Injuries Now S.P.I.N. - Stop Propeller Injuries Now
2365 Conejo Court
Los Osos, CA, 93402
tel. 805-528-0554 - fax. 805-526-8756
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