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UMC's Trauma Center helping lower New Orleans' murder rate by saving lives

"The Trauma Center has seen, over the last 10 years, approximately 25 to 40 percent decrease in all mortality from gun shot wounds."

NEW ORLEANS — In the last four years, the number of murders has steadily dropped in Orleans Parish.

According to the New Orleans Police Department the murder numbers are:

2019 – 119 murders

2018 – 146 murders

2017 – 157 murders

2016 – 173 murders

The NOPD says part of the reason is because they've been targeting repeat violent offenders along with their state and federal law enforcement partners.

But, along with that, there's another factor at play. 

The Level I Trauma Center at University Medical Center takes victims with life-threatening trauma. And its records show, when it comes to serious gun shot wounds from assaults in Orleans Parish alone, over the last eight years the medical team is saving between 80 and 90 percent of the victims. 

"The Trauma Center has seen, over the last 10 years, approximately 25 to 40 percent decrease in all mortality from gun shot wounds," said Dr. John Hunt, LSUHSC Chief Trauma Surgeon and the Trauma Medical Director at UMC. 

Dr. Hunt says victims of violence are more likely to live today because of the military training that EMS and police now get. Tourniquets are just one example. There is also new technology in the hospital.

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Still, the Orleans numbers do show a decrease. In 2016 and 2017 the trauma team treated 345 to 394 gun shot victims from assaults. In 2018, the number was down to 266 and in 2019 the number was 247, but that's just through September.

Even with that Orleans decrease, the trauma team is still just as busy with violence, wrecks and falls, with an increase in trauma patients from the nine parish region and southern Mississippi.

Regionally, the number of gun shot victims is not going down.  

"We still see 800 or 900 gun shot wounds a year, and that's been a fairly consistent number," Dr. Hunt said.

Some of the violence is fueled by the drug trade. 

"There are certainly drugs that make people more violent, like the stimulants, like cocaine, crack, methamphetamine," he said. 

And that is part of what makes the UMC Level I Trauma Center, one of the top, per capita, in the country for gun shot and stab wounds. 

The Trauma Center does not have the number yet of gun shot victims who were treated in October, November and December of 2019, because there are still patients who are in the hospital weeks and even months later from their injuries. 

The numbers are not recorded until the patients are discharged.

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