Traumatic alcohol-related injuries ramp up in summer

As an emergency physician at Gundersen Health System, Ben Wedro knows accidents happen.

But he doesn’t consider alcohol-related injuries accidents.

“When it comes to alcohol, there’s a premeditated thing that’s happened. You’ve decided to go out drinking and you’ve decided to go out driving,” said Wedro.

In the summer months, he sees the results of more people making those poor decisions.

He said Gundersen Health System’s emergency room treats a lot more patients suffering from traumatic alcohol-related injuries when the weather warms up.

“We know that people do stupid things. People drink and drive. They drink and drive not only in their cars, but on their motorcycles, on their bicycles. Pedestrians are at high-risk of being hit when they’re drunk as well. When people are outside and it’s warm, they can get hurt,” said Wedro.


It’s not just the emergency physicians who’ve noticed this summer trend.

“In the law enforcement community, we always used to refer to winter and the snow as having a calming effect. Because by the end of summer, law enforcement has been inundated with arrests and injuries and all the things that go with binge and underage drinking,” said former La Crosse Police Chief Ed Kondracki. He’s now the chairman of the Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior Coalition.

Wedro said the problem isn’t just that people drink and drive more in the summer.

“People who drink get into altercations, they get into fights. They fall down just because they fall down. You get people on bicycles who are drunk and have had injuries from falling. You get people who fall off the bluff,” said Wedro.

Wedro said it’s not just summer when the emergency room gets especially busy with alcohol-related injuries.

He said those injuries ramp up during Oktoberfest, hunting season and major holidays too.