Professor Jooyoung Lee recently published an article in VICE entitled “Doctors and Emergency Workers Tell Us About the Toll of Treating Gunshot Victims.” After a tweet from the NRA criticized doctors for speaking out in favour of gun control, doctors and Emergency workers responded by tweeting about the gunshot victims they see in their working lives. Having conducted research into the aftermath of gun violence, Professor Lee was aware of the effect of gunshot injuries on medical practice as well as on the victims of violence and their families. For this article, Professor Lee drew on his contacts at the University of Pennsylvania to shed light on the role that trauma doctors, EMT’s, police and nurses play in the ongoing fight against gun violence.
Professor Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, a faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, and a Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project. His research interests are focused around how gun violence transforms the social worlds and health of young Black men in different contexts. His recent work examines how murder transforms families and communities; how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction; and a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Professor Julian Tanner and Professor Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto. He is currently writing a book called Ricochet: Gun Violence and Trauma in Killadelphia about the social impacts of gun violence.
An excerpt of the article is posted below (the full article can be found here).
Doctors and Emergency Workers Tell Us About the Toll of Treating Gunshot Victims
After the NRA told doctors to stay in their lane on gun control, many spoke out about the visceral results of gun violence.
About a month ago the NRA tweeted: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in the Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.” This tweet went live eight hours before a gunman killed 12 people and injured several others inside the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA.
This tweet has backfired in spectacular fashion. In the immediate aftermath, doctors from all over began tweeting stories about their work on the frontlines of America’s gun violence epidemic. Many have tweeted stories of resuscitation attempts that end in death. Others have posted photos of scrubs and operating rooms drenched in blood. And some have shared what it’s like to tell parents that their child isn’t going to make it. These tweets (and many others under the #ThisisMyLane) are a grueling snapshot of the work that goes into saving lives.
As someone who has studied gun violence for the past decade and spent time in the hospital with gunshot survivors and their families, I was inspired to see this response. The NRA’s tweet has helped shed light on the role that trauma doctors play in our ongoing fight against gun violence.
But, trauma doctors aren’t alone in this lane. EMTs, police, and nurses are also integral parts of rapid response trauma care. Their cooperation makes life-saving possible.
To learn more about trauma care, I reached out to colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, where I was previously a postdoctoral fellow studying gun violence. The University of Pennsylvania is home to one of the nation’s busiest trauma bays for gunshot victims. Its three hospitals—The Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—are leading research and training hospitals. The following stories reveal the everyday triumphs and challenges of trauma care providers.