Disaster Response & Global Health Section
Responding to firearm violence in America
We think of disasters as sudden, calamitous events, but it does not take much imagination to recognize the loss of lives in America from firearm violence as a type of disaster. In 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries, an increase of 5,155 (14%) since 2019 (Kegler, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.). This is the highest death rate since 1994, and includes increases in both homicides and suicides. Mass shootings constitute a fraction of this total, but there have already been 530 deaths from mass shooting incidents in 2022.
Opinions about the appropriate degree of firearm regulations remain divided, but the need to improve our response as clinicians is clear. The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health recently published consensus recommendations for healthcare response in mass shootings (Goolsby, et al. J Am Coll Surg. 2022;). These recommendations address readiness training, triage, communications, public education, patient tracking, family reunification, and mental health services.
Stop the Bleed is a program originally based on the military’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care standards. It offers training on hemorrhage control for both the public and clinicians, similar to basic life support programs. It encourages bystanders to become trained and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Opportunities for training are a frequent offering at the CHEST Annual Meeting, and additional information can be found at.
Stella Ogake, MD