The National Safety Council has designated Emory University as a Safe Community through its Safe Communities America program. Emory University is just the second academic institution in the United States to be recognized as an international Safe Community, and it is the first on the East Coast.
Debra Houry, director of the Emory Center for Injury Control and associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory, initiated the process of applying for the designation with close support from the Georgia Department of Public Health as well as Emory University leadership, forming the Emory Safety Alliance. “The vast collaborative effort involved in Safe Communities Emory has been truly remarkable,” Houry explains. “Emory’s close ties with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control as well as the great work already done within our community paved the way for our initiative.”
Through the Safe Communities Emory application process, the Emory Safety Alliance–composed of 25 faculty, staff and student groups on campus as well as collaborators outside Emory—was formed to identify the current programs, data collection and gaps specifically dedicated to safety promotion and injury prevention on campus. Additionally, Emory’s unique approach to data collection through the development of the Emory Injury Surveillance System will provide an innovative method for tracking injuries within the community.
Houry describes the Emory Safety Alliance’s vision for the Emory Safe Community movement: “We hope to foster a culture of safety within our community and serve as a model for other academic institutions seeking to use data to drive their safety promotion programs.”
The application process was completed in March, when site visitors from Safe Communities America and Canada visited Emory for a two-day tour. The first day included an interactive tour of Emory’s safety departments and groups, featuring a campus crisis exercise led by the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR).
The second day of the tour showcased Emory’s neighboring collaborative groups including a tour of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “It was great to see the networking going on between the CDC and Safe Communities America,” Houry says. “Through these partnerships and national leadership, we have the real potential to make injury prevention the new public health success story for the next decade.”