Trauma surgeon calls for public health solutions to Louisville gun violence

Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 9:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Treating Louisville’s gun violence as a CDC-level public health problem could look a lot like the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Dr. Keith Miller, a UofL trauma surgeon, called attention to Gun Violence Awareness Day by calling for a public health leadership in combatting the escalating casualties in cities like Louisville.

“Historically, in the United States, they (CDC) have just not had the same voice when it comes to gun violence,” Miller said in a interview with reporters. “And that’s not necessarily a criticism of the CDC or any particular agency specifically. But it’s just to say that all these issues and all the partisan nature of the issue gets tied up in this and prevents us from having meaningful discourse in applying the public health framework to this issue.”

As of noon on this day, 79 people have been killed in homicides in Louisville Metro. Nearly three times more, 280 people, have been wounded. That means someone is wounded in Louisville at a rate of 1 every 13 hours. The problem is so bad, trauma teams are now looking for ways to keep victims from being shot a second time.

“Depending on various sub groups you can have a 25 to 35 percent chance of being re-injured,” Miller said, “Meaning if you’re shot one time, you’ve got a 25 to 35 percent chance of being shot a second time within a 10 year follow up period of time.”

Miller described the almost daily spilling of blood, the fear, the anger and the debilitating life-long injuries that result.

“You’ll be in the hospital on average 4 to 5 days,” Miller said about the survivors. “Certainly we’ve had people in our hospital for months, months and months after these injuries.”

The Pegasus Institute tracks what is now a five year trend of escalating casualties in Louisville totaling in the thousands.

“Non- life threatening or non-fatal shootings is kind of a misnomer,” said Josh Crawford, Pegasus Institute Executive Director.

It does not end a life but it does fundamentally alter a life.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s community of wounded and traumatized continues to grow with no break in the violent trend in sight.

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