Trauma surgeon: Human toll from uptick in N.O. shootings 'extraordinary'

Thursday's shooting on I-10 pushed the number of shooting victims in New Orleans to more than 300.

NEW ORLEANS -- Thursday's shooting on I-10 pushed the number of shooting victims in New Orleans to more than 300.

Last year, the city didn't hit that grim milestone until early August.

The Level One Trauma Center at University Medical Center is now averaging about three shooting or stabbing victims a day.

"The human toll is extraordinary," trauma center Medical Director Dr. John Hunt said. "There definitely has been an up tick in penetrating trauma. That does actually tax the system a little bit more than other types of trauma."

Dr. Hunt says when shooting victims enter the trauma center, they are immediately evaluated by an emergency physician, trauma surgeon and team of medical professionals.

"When we get a level one activation, our highest activation, there's about 15 people that respond immediately," Hunt said. "We have the ability at night to probably run three operating rooms at one time on a dime and then call in personnel to run another probably five to six if we have to."

Before the patient enters the ER, it's up to New Orleans EMS to get the shooting victim to the hospital as soon as possible.

"Our whole goal on the protocol that we work under is that ... if we have someone who's shot, we want to be by that patient's side and then en route to the hospital within no more than 10 minutes," EMS Lt. Liz Belcher said. "It can be stressful, for sure, but your training takes over and you do what needs to be done to help everybody that you can."

Belcher added, a lot of the tools and techniques the EMT's and paramedics now use are adapted from combat medicine in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We've taken those different techniques and applied them to street medicine more or less and we found that we're saving lives," Belcher said.

While trained to respond to all kinds of emergencies, both the trauma center doctors and the staff at NOEMS have a simple message for those committing acts of violence in the city.

"Stop it," Dr. Hunt said. "This isn't the way to solve anything."

"Come be a positive part of the community," Lt. Belcher said.

According to WWL-TV crime analyst Jeff Asher, New Orleans hit the 300 shooting victims mark last year on Aug. 3.

He says the city reached that same milestone on Aug. 1, 2015.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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