Speaking up at the Annual Community Conference Promotes Changes in the County
The Richland County DUI Task Force was established in 2004 but was included into the Richland County Injury Prevention team in 2005 following the first Community Conference. The community indicated that, due to statistics showing that “unintentional injury” was the #1 cause of death in Montana and #3 in Richland County, action needed to be taken.
Both the team and the task force represent a diverse cross-section of the community including citizens, government officials, law enforcement, health professionals, prevention and treatment specialists, business professionals and others. They are dedicated to promoting a healthier and safer environment for the residents of Richland County. They hold regular meetings quarterly and call additional meetings as needed.
Since then the team has developed a work plan each year that aligns with not only the State of Montana but supports the needs and concerns of Richland County indicated by the community in the yearly conferences. They are an intricate part of the Richland Strategic Plan in creating a healthy & safe community. Awareness and Education are the key components of every strategy….with a goal of sustainability.
Their main focus is increasing seat belt and car seat usage among not only drivers but passengers, to decrease the severity of injuries and deaths in a crash. The team also focuses on reducing distracted driving to decrease the actual number of vehicle crashes in our community. However the team is well aware that there are other safety concerns and as they arise the team and/or task force evaluates how they can bring awareness to the community and help to educate on the needs.
The task force’s main focus is reducing DUIs in the community and launched the RADD Campaign (Report a Drunk Driver) asking the community to help keep their community safe. The DUI Task Force Coordinator is a certified RASS trainer which brings education and awareness to those in our communities who sell and serve alcohol. The main focal point for the task force is 21+ so they also bring awareness and education on “Safe Healthy” limits when consuming alcohol. Collaborating with STAND, which focuses on “Under-age Drinking” the task force helps bring awareness and support to those efforts as well.
The team and task force have developed educational programs that can be shared at employee safety meetings or other community group meetings. They also work with employers and others in developing policies to create a healthy and safe environment. For more information on how to become involved or to request training and information please contact Mary Sundheim, Injury Prevention Specialist at the Richland County Health Department. Be sure to attend this year’s Community Conference on March 13th at 5:30 pm at the St. Matthew’s Parish Center in Sidney. RSVP for the free meal & meeting by going to http://www.richland.org or call 433-2207 to register.