San Antonio – More kids in Bexar County died by homicide, suicide, and accidental deaths in 2020 when compared to the previous 4 years, according to the latest 2020 Bexar County Medical Examiner report.
Brandy Martinez, an RN, is the co-chair of the Child Fatality Review Team and is a Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator for Brooke Army Medical Center. She says the unofficial numbers for 2021 show the trend might continue.
“We’re following more or less the same trends, unfortunately. There’s been a lot more deaths to review, so we aren’t as concurring as we normally would be,” she said.
The fatality review team is made up of more than 30 people and organizations that advocate for children. These include Metro Health, juvenile probation, law enforcement, Department of Family Services, mental health advocates, and physicians. Each year the group takes an in-depth look at the reasons behind the child deaths to look for trends and come up with a way to reduce those deaths through advocacy, education, or linking the community to resources.
In the past, the group has looked at various prevention initiatives, including safe storage of firearms, constant supervision of kids around water or a vehicle, proper restraint of children in vehicles, and practicing safe sleeping with infants.
“After we review each case, we determine why is this case preventable or not preventable? And most of these deaths are preventable by some sort of intervention. Sometimes it’s just a supervision issue. Other times, it’s much more complicated than that,” Martinez said.
The Community Action meeting will be on January 6th. The team will then pass on their reviews to a state fatality review team, which advocates for policy changes to protect children at the state level.