Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

Mardi Gras is here again. Actually, today is the “Fat Tuesday” in question, but Mardi Gras celebrations have been ongoing for the past two weeks all along the Gulf Coast. As might be expected anytime that large crowds and alcohol mix, there are larger numbers of people presenting to the emergency department with mishaps.

Based on my own anecdotal experience, motor vehicle/motorcycle trauma tops the list of injuries presenting to the emergency department, probably because of increased traffic and an increased number of intoxicated drivers. Falls are a near second in number of injuries. People insist on watching parades perched on the shoulders of their less-than-sober friends. Couple that with the fact that sidewalks in some parts of Galveston rise two feet above street level, and falls are inevitable. Last, but certainly not least, altercations occur, resulting in all sorts of traumatic injuries.

Mardi Gras is not just about drunken revelry, however. During the daylight hours there are parades that are more family oriented. Last Sunday I watched the parade of the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux, better known as the animal parade. Pets of all descriptions were decked out in their finest Mardi Gras costumes and paraded through the streets. The streets were lined with families and children of all ages, waiting to see the animals and catch the flying beads and coins. I observed that children are just as excited about catching their twentieth string of beads as they were about catching the first strand. A solid hour of screaming and scrambling for beads didn’t change their hope that they would be lucky enough to catch the next strand.

As an emergency physician, I’m hoping for a peaceful day (and night) in the emergency department. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the end of Mardi Gras celebration until next year. Just like the children hoping for beads, I’m hoping that today will be safe for everyone involved in the celebration.

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