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Injury Prevention Program

Photo of a child putting on a bicycle helmet.

Injuries are the leading cause of death among people ages 1 to 44 in New Mexico. Each day an average of 5 people die from injuries, another 40 are hospitalized due to injuries, more than 700 are seen in emergency departments, and more than 2,000 visit other health care facilities for treatment of their injuries.

Injuries can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional injuries are inflicted by people on others--usually through violence. Domestic violence, sexual assault, and gun violence are all intentional injuries with a victimizer and a victim. Examples of unintended injuries include motor vehicle crashes, poisoning (from legal and illegal drugs), and falls (usually associated with the older population).

Injuries exact a tremendous toll on our state’s families and our state’s resources. The financial cost of injury amounts to more than $4 billion a year in New Mexico, and the emotional costs are impossible to measure. The only greater tragedy than the pain and suffering caused by injuries is that most are preventable.

Our program is working to reduce injuries by:

  • Monitoring injury data to inform and guide prevention efforts.
  • Supporting coalitions, partnerships and professionals.
  • Providing technical assistance on public education strategies.
  • Promoting evidence-based policies for injury prevention.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of injury prevention activities.

Youth Concussion Prevention and Education

The Department of Health is currently working to promulgate regulations pursuant to Senate Bill 38, which was passed by the New Mexico Legislature in 2016 to ensure the provision of concussion education for coaches, parents, children and youth involved in non-scholastic sports teams. According to the law, all private, non-school related youth teams, clubs, and leagues will be required to have their coaches and league administrators successfully complete online concussion and head injury education once per year, pass the post-test and print a certificate of completion to be included in their records before supervising an athlete in an activity of the youth sports organization. These organizations must also offer concussion and head injury training and related educational materials to each youth participant using any curriculum approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an annual basis, identical to what is required of all school teams. The Department of Health recommends that all organizations that will be required to provide this training in the future, do so even before the regulation is completed.

The training can be completed online or through printed copy of the online training. Course information, curriculum and certification are available at:

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Table of Contents

Our Structure

Office of Injury Prevention is part of the Injury & Behavioral Epidemiology Bureau and the Epidemiology and Response Division. The Bureau is committed to all aspects of injury prevention including surveillance, analysis of data, reporting, dissemination of reports on injury, and promotion of evidence-based policies and programs.

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Injury Prevention Unit

The Injury Prevention Unit focuses on promoting evidence-based prevention strategies and promising practices, coalition building, and offering technical assistance to community members working on injury prevention education and policy.

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Childhood Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of policies and programs that support the prevention of motor vehicle injury, non-motorized vehicle injury, pedestrian injury, day care injury, school injury, and sports injury. Prevention Strategies: Development of nonprofit, public agency, school and internet-based curriculum and materials for parents, youth, community educators, health care professionals, home and commercial day care providers, policemen, firemen and home visitation specialists; technical support of state/local coalitions, boards and other organizations involved in childhood injury prevention, including the New Mexico SAFE KIDS Coalition, the New Mexico Helmets for Kids Coalition, and the Off Highway Vehicle Safety Board; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs, research, networking, and funding opportunities for childhood injury prevention programs.

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Youth Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of motor vehicle injuries, physical assault at schools and in the community, gun violence, suicide, homicide, alcohol-related injuries, and drug-induced poisoning. Prevention Strategies: Development of internet-based resources, databases, and e-courses for youth injury prevention programs; strategic planning for programs working with youth (ages 14-24), parents, community educators, health care professionals, and juvenile justice staff; technical support of state and local coalitions and organizations involved in youth injury prevention; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs and policies, research, networking, and funding opportunities for youth injury prevention programs.

Prevention activities also include the development and management of the five-year youth injury prevention initiative the Valencia County Resiliency Corps. The Corps focuses on community mobilizing around youth injury prevention and the strengthening of youth resiliency factors in the pilot site of Valencia County, the offering of a hybrid (web-based and classroom instruction) UNM Valencia course Youth Safety, Health and Resiliency, ongoing assessment and capacity building.

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Core Injury Specialist and Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention

This position supports “core” capacity building and surveillance activities to prevent and control both intentional and unintentional injuries through three primary objectives: build a solid infrastructure for injury prevention and control throughout the state; collect, analyze, use and disseminate injury data; implement and evaluate prevention strategies. Prevention Strategies adoption and implementation of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Strategic Plan; provide statewide technical assistance to the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition and the Injury Policy Sub-Committee: promote implementation of culturally appropriate best and promising practices for injury prevention; share injury prevention research, training events, and funding opportunities; facilitate networking and collaboration across injury disciplines.

The position includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of drug-induced poisoning, including illicit and prescription drugs.

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Adult and Older Injury Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies that support the prevention of adult and older adult injury, violence and substance abuse including: motor vehicle crashes, drug overdose, sexual assault, homicide, suicide, senior falls, older adult suicide, and older adult abuse.

Prevention Strategies: Adoption and implementation of the Falls Free: National Action Plan; providing statewide coordination of the Adult Falls Prevention Coalition; sharing of evidence-based prevention programs, research, networking, and funding opportunities for adult injury prevention programs.

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Violence Prevention

Includes the promotion of programs and policies focusing on the prevention of sexual violence, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, bullying, and hazing. The coordinator collaborates with members of the prevention teen focusing on all age groups.

Prevention Strategies: Serving as liaison between NMDOH and other collaborative teams, including the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, the Intimate Partner Violence Homicide Review Team, the Violence Against Women Act STOP Grant Implementation Team, the Coordinated Community Response team in Santa Fe, and others to increase collaboration and coordination of Office of Injury Prevention activities with other groups; overseeing the CDC Rape Prevention and Education Cooperative Agreement and State special appropriations; providing technical support to organizations serving educators, parents, youth, people with disabilities, Native Americans, and service providers.

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Injury Epidemiology Unit

Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of a population. It serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and injury prevention. Understanding who is being injured informs prevention programming and policy. The Epidemiology Unit gathers information on the “who, when, and where” of injury occurrence. It analyzes data, identifies trends, makes comparisons, and prepares reports.

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Injury Epidemiology

Data collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination of reports on injury death and hospitalization data of New Mexico residents by cause of unintentional injuries including: falls, motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, drowning, fire, firearms; by cause of intentional injury including suicides and homicides; and mechanism of intentional injury including firearms, poisoning, etc. The nature of injury, including traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures from death and hospitalization data, are also analyzed. Detailed analysis of falls among the older adult population is being conducted.

Collection and maintenance of the main injury databases of the program, analysis of data, reporting, and dissemination of reports on injury death and hospitalization data of New Mexico residents by cause of unintentional injuries. Development of the electronic interfaces to transfer data elements from source data files into the New Mexico Violent Death Reporting System and Child Fatality Review database in collaboration with data source agencies.

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Violent Death Reporting System

The New Mexico Violent Death Reporting System is a population-based surveillance system that collects and links data from several different sources including death certificates, autopsy reports, law enforcement reports and crime lab traces on weapons, on all resident and non-resident violence deaths that occur in New Mexico in order to promote evidence-based programs and policies for the prevention of suicide, homicide and firearm-related death.

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Child Fatality Review

The New Mexico Child Fatality Review brings together multidisciplinary teams of experts from professional and community agencies to systematically evaluate information on child death events and identify risk factors in these deaths. It focuses on systems changes that lead to greater collaborative efforts and improvements in child health and safety. Cases are groups by the type of death events and reviewed accordingly by the following panels: deaths from accidents other than transportation and including Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID/SIDS), child abuse and neglect, homicide, suicide, and transportation.

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Prevention Terms & Strategies

The following definitions include evidence-based strategies that communities can consider as part of their injury prevention work.

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Alcohol Use and Related Injuries

Excessive alcohol use is often a factor in injury and death resulting from motor vehicle crashes, inter-personal and self-inflicted violence, falls, drug overdose, and a variety of other injury causes. Binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women) is strongly associated with increased risk of injury and death from these causes. Excessive alcohol use is also associated with a host of other social problems, including violence, infectious disease, crime, and mental illness. Reducing the prevalence of binge drinking is an important public health goal intended to decrease the overall burden of alcohol-related injury and death. Alcohol use – particularly binge drinking – is especially risky to underage drinkers. The three leading causes of death in the underage population – motor vehicle crashes, homicide, and suicide — are all strongly associated with alcohol use. Reducing access to alcohol by underage persons is an important public health goal.

In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

  • Policies to ensure alcoholic beverage retailers comply with the minimum purchase age.
  • Improved enforcement of state laws prohibiting distribution of alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 years and more severe penalties to discourage such distribution.
  • More severe penalties and better enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales and service to intoxicated persons.
  • Higher prices for alcoholic beverages. Higher prices are associated with reductions in the probability of frequent alcohol consumption by young persons and in the probability of adults drinking five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion.
  • Increased use of screening, education and counseling for adults.
  • Use of screening, education and counseling for adolescents in school-based health clinics is a promising practice.

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Drug-Induced Poisoning

Prescription, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal drugs temporarily alter a person’s perception and emotional state. Wide promotion by pharmaceutical companies, access to drugs, and easy availability through Mexico increases drugs' availability and makes misuse easier. Well-established distribution networks for illegal drugs exist throughout the state.

In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

  • Enforcement of laws and policies designed to prevent the supply, sale, and use of illegal drugs.
  • Enforcement of the 911 Good Samaritan law. This law provides limited immunity from drug possession charges when a drug-related overdose victim or a witness to an overdose seeks medical assistance.
  • Promotion of available, accessible, and affordable mental health and recovery services for those needing support.
  • Policies supporting the prevention of overuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Please visit the Opioid Safety section of our website to learn more.

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A fall can cause serious injury. Younger (ages 1-4) and older (over 65) populations are most at risk from fall-related injuries. For young children, a child-safe home, play, and school environment are key. Older adults also need safe living environments. Serious fall-related injuries have both a physical and emotional impact on the older person.

Generally accepted prevention strategies include:

  • Creating safe environments for children that reduce the risk of falls and provide protective fall surfaces at home, school, and outdoors.
  • Providing attentive supervision of young children in the home, at school and outdoors.
  • Promoting the practice among primary care providers of conducting individualized clinical assessments of older patients for fall risk factors combined with strategies directed toward reducing those risks (e.g., home modification, exercise).
  • Providing and promoting exercise programs for older adults intended to improve balance, strength, flexibility and/or endurance.
  • Reviewing and modifying medications provided to older adults (especially psychoactive medications).
  • Assessing and correcting vision problems among older adults.

Please visit the Older Adult Falls section of our website to learn more.

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Firearm Injuries

Firearm-related injury is one of the leading causes of injury and death among young people. In general, prevention strategies that have been effective include:

  • Enforcement of laws and policies related to gun sales, possession, accessibility and trafficking including licensing of gun owners and registration of guns.
  • Keeping homes with children and adolescents gun-free but when parents choose to bring a gun into the home, keeping the gun locked, unloaded and storing the ammunition separately.
  • Comprehensive, community-based gun violence prevention initiatives focused on deterring youth gun involvement.

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Intimate Partner Violence and Teen Dating Violence

Intimate partner violence includes physical assault and intimidation between two people in a relationship. Teen dating violence refers to intimidation and physical violence between young people in a relationship. Intimate partner violence and teen dating violence can be described as a pattern of behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their partners. The violence may or may not be sexual in nature. The violence is used by the victimizer to control and disempower the victim. Victims can be male or female—though most victimizers are male. The violence or threats of violence can be sporadic or a daily or weekly occurrence. The victim is often torn between feelings of attachment to her or his partner, and feelings of fear. The victim may be economically dependent on the victimizer. The violence and control instigated by the victimizer results in both emotional and physical harm. The damage done by intimidation and violence can have a long-lasting impact on the victim. Parents of teens, friends of teens, school staff, neighbors, and extended family members need to be vigilant and report suspected partner violence.

Interventions may include:

  • Enforcement of laws and policies protecting victims of relationship violence.
  • Available, accessible, and affordable behavioral health services for those seeking support.

Prevention strategies, seen as promising practice, include: educational programs for youth about emotional health, healthy relationships, self-worth, anger management, and related mental health issues.

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Motor Vehicle Injury

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of injury and injury-related death in NM. Vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, off-road motorcycles, miniature motorcycles and snowmobiles. Alcohol-impaired driving are a contributing factor in many motor vehicle crashes.

Generally accepted prevention strategies involve a comprehensive use of numerous laws and policies including:

  • Enforcement of laws related to the use of seat belts, child car seats and booster safety seats.
  • Enactment and enforcement of helmet laws.
  • Graduated driver’s licensing law for teen drivers.
  • Minimum legal drinking age of 21.
  • Alcohol server trainer requirements and alcohol seller awareness programs.
  • Zero tolerance laws that make it illegal for people under age 21 to drive after any drinking.
  • Alcohol roadside sobriety checkpoint programs accompanied by effective publicity efforts to increase the perceived risk of arrest.
  • Enforcement of ignition interlock laws.
  • Engineering improvements to roads, especially rural roadways, including paved shoulders, mid-lane rumble strips, enhanced pavement markings, skid-resistant pavement surfaces and eliminating shoulder drop-offs.

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Protective Factors & Risk Factors

Studies have looked at the lives of children to see which factors strengthened and empowered young people to lead healthy lives. These are called protective factors (or resiliency factors). The same studies also noted which factors put young people at risk for violence, drug abuse and other unhealthy behaviors. These are called risk factors. Protective factors can be found in both the child’s home and community, including the school.

Protective factors in the family include:

  • A child’s emotional attachment to a parent or caregiver.
  • Parents’ and caregivers' supervision of their children.
  • Parents' emotional attachment to a child.
  • Parents' involvement in the child’s life.
  • Parents’ expectation for a child to succeed in school.
  • Parents’ ability to set rules and provide consistent enforcement of discipline.
  • A child’s access to a living environment free from violence.
  • A child’s access to a living environment free from alcohol and drug abuse.

Protective factors in the community include:

  • A child’s attachment to teachers.
  • A child’s access to safe recreational activities.
  • A child’s access to a safe school where learning is prioritized.
  • A child’s access to a community free from violence.
  • A child’s access to a community free from drug trafficking, alcohol and drug abuse.
  • A child’s access to pro-social activities. (like after school programs and youth groups)
  • A child's healthy relationship with an adult outside of his or her family.

Children are often exposed to a mix of protective factors and risk factors. The factors may change over time. The more protective factors in a child’s life, the better chance for the child’s safety and healthy development.

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School and Community-based Harassment and Violence

Harassment and bullying can include: threats of physical assault (hitting, tripping, pushing), name-calling, cyberbullying (threats via the Internet and texting), and intimidation. The use of weapons represents the most serious form of bullying and harassment. Harassment (including sexual harassment) and bullying can escalate to serious physical injuries, and students no longer learn at school.

Prevention strategies may include:

  • Available, accessible, and affordable mental health services for those seeking support, including both victims and victimizers.
  • Enforcement of laws and policies established to promote school safety and prevent youth violence and sexual harassment.
  • Comprehensive evidence-based school-based bullying and harassment prevention programs that provide all of the following: enforcement of school safety policies, on-going education to students, yearly training for school teaching and administrative staff, and educational outreach to parents.

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Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any kind of unwanted interpersonal sexual behavior. This can include verbal harassment, rape, sexual abuse, incest, and sexual assault. Most perpetrators of sexual violence know their victims. The survivor may be in an intimate relationship with the perpetrator and feel too embarrassed, frightened, or disempowered to ask for help. Sexual violence can be directed at people of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and socio-economic class. Reported cases of sexual violence indicate that most of the survivors are female and most perpetrators are male. The sexual violence can result in psychological, emotional and physical harm. The damage done by sexual violence can have a long-lasting impact on the survivor and their family and friends.

Strategies to consider, if part of a comprehensive plan, could provide effective interventions:

  • Free and confidential counseling services for victims and others affected by the violence.
  • Education for survivors to dispel myths, reduce self-blame and guilt, and reestablish healthy physical and psychological boundaries.
  • Rape crisis phone lines available and staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • Enforcement of laws and policies designed to protect the survivors of sexual violence.
  • Offender intervention programming.
  • Expeditious prosecution of sexual assault.

Please visit the Sexual Violence Prevention section of our website to learn more.

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Suicide Prevention Program

National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

People threaten and attempt to take their lives for many reasons. Sadly, all too often, people complete suicide attempts. When people make verbal threats, comments about wanting to die by suicide, and actual suicide attempts they should be responded to as calls for help and always be taken seriously. Many people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health illness, most commonly a mood disorder like depression. However, some people have never been diagnosed, either because they have not received a mental health assessment from a professional or an unwillingness to seek help because of stigma associated with both mental health issues and with asking for help. Suicide is complex. Several factors—individual and environmental--contribute to both a person’s risk for suicide as well to factors that help protect the individual and lower their suicide risk.

The reasons for suicide attempts may change over a person’s lifetime. Research cannot capture all the causes for suicide, but risk factors include:

  • A prolonged sense of hopelessness, despair, and depression.
  • Lack of healthy emotional connection with friends, family, or other caring adults.
  • Lack of connectedness to the community.
  • Lack of access to mental health services.
  • Adverse childhood experiences.
  • Misuse or abuse of alcohol and other substances.

Other risk factors include experiencing a recent painful event (such as job loss, loss of loved one or favorite pet, relationship break-ups, incarceration), chronic physical illness, and a family history of suicide attempts or completions.

In general, suicide prevention strategies that have been shown to be effective focus on targeting high risk individuals with brief behavioral and supportive interventions.

Prevention Strategies include:

  • Promotion of accessible and affordable mental health services for those seeking support.
  • Reducing access to means of suicide (specifically weapons).

Strategies to consider, if part of a comprehensive plan, that could reduce the stigma of suicide and mental illness: Public education programs on emotional health, coping strategies, signs of depression, and warning signs of suicide for youth, parents, educators, and health care providers.

What is the Department of Health doing around suicide prevention?

The Suicide Prevention Program is in the Office of Injury Prevention in the Epidemiology and Response Division. The goal of the program is to reduce New Mexico’s suicide rate. It is collaborating with and is advised by the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition, which comprises culturally and geographically diverse individuals from across the state who represent all aspects of need, populations at higher risk, and statewide resources. These range from advocacy by suicide survivors to crisis responders, providers of behavioral health care services, and policy makers. The Coalition invites vital member input and has identified four major goals with objectives for action to address suicide. It is developing a coordinated and comprehensive approach to this significant public health issue that will benefit all New Mexico residents. Membership in the Coalition is open, and the Office of Injury Prevention welcomes any resident interested in joining this group.

To address suicide in a particularly vulnerable group, the Office of Injury Prevention is working to establish programs to reduce suicide re-attempt by individuals after they have been seen in an emergency department and discharged. This effort engages emergency department staff, social workers, behavioral health care providers, and administrators, some of whom serve on the Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Find Help

If you or someone you know may be feeling suicidal or would like to talk with a trained counselor, please contact one of following:

  • Call 911 if there is immediate danger of harm to yourself or others
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741 741, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website; for Spanish speakers, call 1-888-628-9454.
  • Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, Option 1 or text (with anything in the subject line) to 838255. Deaf and Hard of Hearing call 1-800-799-4889.
  • Call the Agora Crisis Center at 505-277-3013 or 1-855-505-4505 or log-on for an on-line chat service at New Mexico Crisis and Access Line Website and click Chat Online; or
  • Call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-662-7474 hrs/7 days a week/365 days a year or call or text the Warm Line to talk with a counselor or peer supporter at 1-855-466-7100 , NM Crisis Line Website
  • Call the New Mexico Peer to Peer Warmline at 1-855-466-7100 for in-person call and texting services to talk about a mental health or substance use concerns in yourself or others before the point of crisis

Please visit the Suicide Prevention section of our website to learn more.

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Learn More

State Resources:
National Resources for Information on Suicide Prevention:
Resources and Support:


New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition

The goal of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition (NMIPC) is to reduce the burden of injury in New Mexico through the development of a diverse coalition charged with reaching consensus on priority areas in injury prevention, promoting best practices and interventions, and improving resource sustainability. Instead of working in isolation, injury prevention professionals can find support, professional development opportunities, access to research and updates on funding opportunities through the Coalition.

The Coalition is guided by the goals and objectives of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Strategic Plan 2008-2012, developed with funding from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and input from injury prevention professionals throughout the state. The strategic planning process was led by the Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention and facilitated by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center.

The Strategic Plan focuses on increasing the capacity to prevent injuries in New Mexico through:

  • Increasing public awareness about injury prevention.
  • Building the capacity of communities, especially underserved communities, to develop and implement effective injury prevention programs.
  • Improving the quality, accessibility and timely dissemination of injury data, especially for underserved communities.
  • Establishing permanent funding for injury prevention initiatives.
  • Increasing collaboration within the injury prevention community to implement injury prevention strategies for New Mexicans.
  • Developing an infrastructure for leading, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating the implementation of the NM Injury Prevention Strategic Plan 2008-2012.
  • Increasing the use of evidence-based injury prevention interventions.
  • Increasing the priority level for injury prevention issues among policymakers.

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Creating a Statewide Network

Injury prevention crosses many disciplines — community organizations, schools, advocacy groups, public safety, the faith community, city planning departments, parks and recreation departments, safety coalitions and government agencies, to name a few. Building a strong, interdisciplinary network is of primary importance to the Coalition as it strengthens members work in their communities and across the state.

Leadership for the Coalition is provided by a chair, chair-elect and a 10-member steering committee. The Coalition’s work groups are designed to implement the goals of the Strategic Plan.

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Coalition Leadership

  • Chair, Helen Sisneros, UNM
  • Past Chair, Leona Woelk, UNM Prevention Research Center

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Benefits of Membership

  • Networking opportunities.
  • Access to injury information.
  • Injury prevention education and training.
  • Visibility for injury prevention programs.
  • Involvement in support of better policy development.
  • Resources, funding and training opportunities.
  • Coordination of efforts.
  • Building effective advocacy groups.
  • Interaction with multi-disciplinary partners.
  • Building injury prevention capacity through shared goals, efforts and participation.

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Membership Application

Membership is free but a membership application is required. For more information please contact Rachel Wexler at 505-709-5436.

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