A pair of surgeons in the Chicago area are responding to the significant uptick in deadly gun violence in the Midwest’s most populous city by bringing emergency healthcare efforts directly to the streets. Rather than dispatching medical professionals, Mamta Swaroop, MD, and Leah Tatebe, MD, are leading an effort to equip average citizens to provide immediate trauma care, heightening the chances that victims of violence can make it to an emergency room in time to save their lives.
Swaroop, an assistant professor of surgery at Northwestern University, and Matabe, a trauma and general surgeon at Downers Grove’s Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, developed the Chicago South Side Trauma First Responders Course program in direct response to the human mayhem they were seeing come through the OR doors.
“Last spring there was case after case that I kept seeing of patients who were dying … it came to me that why not have a first responders course that [could] minimize people hemorrhaging out,” Swaroop told ABC News.
The surgeons are collaborating with the advocacy group Cure Violence, which gained greater national prominence when they were featured in the 2011 documentary The Interrupters. The organization has been providing feedback on the best approaches to bringing the critical training into the neighborhoods with the most critical need.
The inaugural course will take place in early January, likely with an array of specifically-chosen community leaders who can then become advocates for the value of learning the trauma response practices.
Swaroop notes that the emergency medicine skill set doesn’t only serve the direct victims of gun violence. It can also provide a welcome sense of empowerment to witnesses who might otherwise feel matters are spiraling out of control.
“The feeling of not knowing what to do … you feel helpless in that situation,” Swaroop told ABC News.