Post accident care in Poland

It has been 20 years since the start of Poland’s socio-economic transition followed by a surge in demand for transport, and as a consequence, a rise in road accidents and victims. Known to the world as “the year 1989”, the change swept across all of Central Europe attracting the obvious interest of other European countries, especially those using Polish roads to go from Western Europe to the former USSR. With increasing risk for transit traffic, a number of expert opinions and publications were made discussing the problem and offering methods to solve it. Two documents were particularly important for Poland: the Gerondeau Report and the Nordic Council Report. They had led to the launch of the GAMBIT’96 programme, designed to improve Poland’s appalling road safety. The programme was built around what was a classic method at the time, integrating the three areas of: engineering, enforcement and education. The measures were implemented in three phases: before, during and after the accident, in accordance with Haddon’s concept. Because they are not the subject of this paper, the first two phases will be left out. The post-accident phase focussed on improving technical and medical rescue because the treatment of road accident casualties and their rehabilitation was part of the public health department. It would be true to say that post-accident care was handed over from the department of the interior to the department of public health. Although apparently minor, the change was anything but that to the road accident victim who as the time progressed, felt more and more on their own battling the consequences of the accident. First, it should be stressed that while the total number of road accident victims in Poland is growing, it is not because of a higher number of accidents but because the number of victims aggregates over time. Today it is estimated that in the last 20 years in Poland more than one million people were injured. This weighs heavily on the system of medical, psychological and financial care. The most recent statistics of the Central Office of Statistics (GUS, 2009) say that the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) found that every fifth Pole is within the group of people of disabilities. Of course, only some of them were disabled in transport accidents. Because other countries may be dealing with the same problems, we took advantage of their experience to help us build a concept of a system providing post-accident help to road accident victims and their families. Established by the Pope John Paul II and subsequently supported by a decision of the UN General Assembly, the World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims was our first opportunity to raise public awareness and gain the public’s support for the idea. In our paper we will focus on the efforts of NGOs which are running the Post Accident Trauma Centre project with support from local authorities and the scientific community. Phase one will be about understanding public opinion on post accident care for victims and their families. July 2012 saw the unveiling of Poland’s first monument to remember the victims of accidents. This is a meeting point for families who established the National Association of Accident Victims’ Families to gain support of the Parliament, authorities and the public for a programme to build a Centre of Post Accident Care. The Association draws on the ideas of the European SUPREME project. The experience from the Polish GAMBIT programme shows that post accident care is not a welcome objective of National Road Safety Programmes due to its non-preventive nature (GAMBIT, 2005). Because it only applies to some victims, it does not attract the interest of politicians or the public. However, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis should consider all costs of road accidents and all benefits of prevention and post accident efforts which alleviate human suffering and help the victims back on track with their normal daily lives.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 11
  • Monograph Title: Road safety on four continents: 16th international conference, Beijing, China, 15-17 May 2013. Proceedings

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01567052
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • ISBN: 9789163729737
  • Files: ITRD, VTI
  • Created Date: Jun 23 2015 4:49PM