MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The 23-mile traffic loop returns Friday at 10 p.m. for its third Bikefest, and local emergency management and law enforcement leaders aren't the only ones who have seen changes as a result of its implementation.
"We are seeing a decrease in the amount of trauma activations during those times," said Alison Burns, a registered nurse and director of trauma services for Grand Strand Health. "Although we are seeing that there are other times that are increasing, whether that be before the traffic loop earlier on in the day."
Burns said the patients who do have to go to the Grand Strand Medical Center trauma unit during loop hours generally have a higher acuity, meaning they're less likely to survive.
"Somebody who has a high acuity may have chest trauma, abdominal trauma and a fractured extremity versus someone who skidded out their motorcycle and has a lot of road rash related to it," she said.
Burns thinks bikers could be riding in areas other than the traffic loop.
"I think as the years go by we'll find more and more statistics that tell us where it's actually occurring and what types of incidents are occurring and really what type of injuries are occurring outside the traffic loop area," she said.
Grand Strand Medical Center has already staffed up the past three weekends and that will continue through this weekend as Bikefest gets going.
Burns said the hospital increases staffing of doctors, nurses, surgeons, operating teams and other positions based on what they've seen statistically over the last several years.
The hospital also stocks up on supplies like tourniquets, fluids, chest tubes and blood.
"We do see a lot of head injuries," Burns said. "We do see fractured extremities. We see pelvic injuries."
As for Spring Harley Rally, Burns said the trauma unit saw similar types of accidents, injuries and volume of patients compared to the last several years.
Traumas have increased 11 percent from 2012 to 2016 for the entire month of bike events.