The Columbus Dispatch
In midst of rising gun violence, Ohio residents learning how to treat gunshot wounds
“I’m sorry, it’s going to hurt,” Melissa Williams, a registered nurse with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said as she mimicked talking to a patient who was shot.
She was speaking to nearly two dozen people who gathered Thursday evening at the Avondale branch of the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.
They weren’t there to check out books. They were there to learn how to treat gunshot wounds.
As part of the “Stop the Bleed” event − organized by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Greater Cincinnati Resilience Coalition and Joining Forces for Children − residents practiced applying tourniquets and used plastic dummies to simulate packing gunshot wounds with gauze.
Charles Williams, a 41-year-old, lifelong Avondale resident, had already been trained in treating gunshot wounds prior to Thursday night’s session. He was helping others as they practiced packing wounds.
“As much as we want people to stop shooting and killing, we’re not seeing that happen,” he said.
Williams, who’s been face-to-face with gun violence near his home, said such training is vitally important and he’s even trying to set up a community organization, Team Tourniquet, that will aid victims of violence until paramedics can arrive.
“Too many of us are standing around watching people die,” 50-year-old Juane Madaris told The Enquirer.
Madaris, who was raised in Avondale, said her fiance died by suicide in 2006. She’s trained in CPR but at the time she knew nothing about treating a gunshot wound.
“What do you do?” she asked. That question is even more pressing in the wake of a spike in the number of teenage shooting victims in Cincinnati. So far this year, 29 children between 13 and 17 have been shot, more than any other year on record, according to Cincinnati Police Department data.
The latest shooting involving teens was Wednesday afternoon in Over-therhine.
Three children - 10, 14 and 15 - along with a man in his 20s were shot when at least two people opened fire from a car near the corner of Mcmicken Avenue and Lang Street. Earlier that morning 15-year-old Jamon’ee Crawley was
gunned down in East Price Hill. Both cases are under investigation. No arrests have been announced.
In previous years, Cincinnati Children’s would average less than three gunshot wound victims a month, said
Dr. Rich Falcone, a pediatric surgeon and director of the hospital’s Pediatric Trauma Transformation Collaboration.
Now, that number has doubled, Falcone said, noting those statistics don’t include the children who are declared dead before they arrive at the hospital.
“I’ve been in that position too many times ... of having to tell a parent the most horrible news they would ever want to hear because of a firearm injury,” Falcone told The Enquirer.
While police haven’t said whether other teens are suspects in the city’s most recent juvenile shootings, The Enquirer has reported that a number of homicides in the city in the past two years have been attributed to teen gangs.
This violence spreads as retribution killings spiral between feuding factions.
Summer months, when teenagers are on break from school, are particularly prone to youth violence due to a lack of structure or routine activities, according to J.Z. Bennett, an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.
Easy access to guns, heightened risktaking behaviors stemming from a “group mentality” and a perceived lack of opportunities are all factors that play into juvenile gun violence, Bennett said.
“I think we just have to stop being disingenuous about the gun violence conversation,” he said. “If it’s a public health crisis, we have to treat it like a public health crisis, but oftentimes we don’t.”
“It seems as though when it comes to communities of color that same effort or investment is not there,” Bennett added.
Not all gunshot injuries stem from violence, Falcone said. Suicide and unintentional gunshot wounds are other common causes of firearm-related injuries in children.
But all the same, and all too often, Falcone said, children who survive gunshot wounds say things like “‘I don’t want to go back home,’” or “‘I’m scared to leave.’”
“It’s hard to see this day after day,” Falcone said, adding that he and his staff drill and practice so they’re prepared when something like Wednesday’s shooting happens. “We’re ready all the time.”
Enquirer reporter Cameron Knight contributed.