Students Are Learning How to Treat Gunshot Wounds While Politicians Do Nothing 


The Associated Press reports that a Harwood, Maryland high school is the latest to receive a “Stop the Bleed” trauma training, in which medical professionals teach the public how to stop life-threatening bleeding. Several school systems in Maryland are already making the training mandatory for their students and staff.

This is the new normal, and while politicians wring their hands and do nothing about gun violence, America’s trauma doctors are trying to prepare students and others for a worst-case-scenario.

“Stop the Bleed” is part of a national campaign from the American College of Surgeons that began in 2015. Its existence is a partial response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, according to its founders. In 2017, the Baltimore Sun spoke with Thomas Scalea—physician-in-chief at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center who helped create the “Stop the Bleed” initiative—who described the difference he believes the training can make:

Scalea said it’s not unusual for him to see people arrive at Shock Trauma that have bled to death from an otherwise treatable injury. Too often, he added, he finds himself saying, “If we had just gotten there five minutes earlier — if we had just been able to stop this hemorrhage in the streets — that kid didn’t have to die.”

“Stop the Bleed” trainings also have a presence outside of the classroom: Training sessions opened up in Baltimore last fall, attracting residents from neighborhoods that are plagued by gun violence:

Sharonda Harden, who picked up a flier about the upcoming training at an information booth at Shock Trauma, said she’s going to sign up for it because of the high crime rates near her home in the Penn-North neighborhood. She said she wants to be able to keep her sons safe if they become victims of violence.

As surgeons try to situate the training in a broader public health context, it’s possible that Republicans may point to it as a “fix” to what is a larger issue of gun access. Pro-gun pundit and former senator Rick Santorum already tried to use this talking point back in March, when he suggested that instead of changing gun laws, gun control activists should “learn CPR” and other methods of treating those who have been gravely wounded in a shooting.

It shouldn’t be up to doctors and high school students to solve America’s gun problem.

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