Middle-aged men are making the annual pilgrimage to the emergency room, with the Christmas period the most popular time for broken bones and serious falls.
Middle-aged men are making the annual pilgrimage to the emergency room, with the Christmas period the most popular time for broken bones and serious falls.

‘Tis the season for high falls and broken bones

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with the fallen in every ward.

Scores of battered, bruised and broken middle-aged men are making the annual Christmas pilgrimage to emergency departments after slipping from roofs and ladders while trying to wow their families with festive light displays.

Of more than 1700 patients treated for high falls at the Royal Melbourne Hospital over the past eight years, one in five has taken their tumble in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

After his own decorating disaster Guido Pozzebon, 50, will be nursing fractured ribs and swapping mince pies for pain killers courtesy of a three metre fall from his Mt Evelyn roof while putting up lights last weekend.

 

Guido Pozzebon, was on his roof putting Christmas lights up and fell, ending up in the Royal Melbourne Hospital with six fractured ribs. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Guido Pozzebon, was on his roof putting Christmas lights up and fell, ending up in the Royal Melbourne Hospital with six fractured ribs. Picture: Tim Carrafa

"I'm a lucky one - I have six broken ribs, not spine damage or brain damage," Mr Pozzebon said.

"It is a pride thing. The wife tells me 'don't go up'.

"My daughter said 'are you going to put the lights up?' I said 'as long as you help me'.

"It normally takes me two days to put up my Christmas display, but I had this extra time so I thought I would put more lights on the roof than I normally do - big mistake.

"Now there are not lights on the roof and there won't be ever again."

While he will continue to bring Christmas cheer to his street each year, Mr Pozzebon has vowed that only Santa or trained professionals will set foot on his roof in the future.

But with almost 40 per cent of trauma cases caused by people falling, RMH emergency department physician Dr Mya Cubitt said learning to respect ladders, roofs and working at heights was a very serious issue year-round.

Of those injured in falls greater than one metre during the busy November and December period, most had dropped from stairs, balconies ladders, or roofs.

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The average age of those treated for falls at the RMH is 42, while Dr Cubitt said the vast majority are men.

"If you don't want to be in hospital at Christmas, don't go up a ladder," Dr Cubitt said.

"Falling over is something that could change your life and change your abilities to engage in

the activities or Christmas.

"We see people falling off ladder all of the time, whether that is from guttering, or lights or Christmas-related activities.

"The onus is on you to make good decisions and make choices that keep you safe (but) nobody ever thinks it is going to happen to them."


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