How to Save the Life of a Gunshot Victim

Mass shootings have changed the way trauma care at the scene of the shooting is handled according to Tom Avril at News Service.  “When it comes to saving the life of a gunshot victim, it’s all about stopping the blood loss”  according to Avril.  Emergency medical providers are now encouraged to go directly to the scene of the injured because “every minute of blood loss can worsen a patient’s chances.” Uncontrolled bleeding can cause death within five to ten minutes, a grim fact.

Dispatching emergency medical providers and training civilians to place tourniquets (which are tightened around an injured limb to stem blood loss) were one of many changes implemented as a result of research showing that blood loss is the most preventable common cause of death from trauma, Penn Medicine trauma surgeon Jeremy W. Cannon says.  The research was conducted after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School school shooting in Newtown, CT.

Avril goes on to report that heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the United States but those are diseases that strike older people. Trauma occurs more often in younger people.  Every year, an estimated 5.4 million years of life are lost due to early death from trauma, compared with 3.2 million to heart disease and 4.4 million to cancer, Dr. Cannon says.  “These are young, vital people . . . that have their whole lives in front of them that are now not with us anymore.”

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