Mass shootings in suburbs like Parkland, Fl., get a lot of public and political attention. Yet the urban toll of gun violence is much higher, and in Philadelphia, a frequent event. Shootings in the city take place in different neighborhoods and involve different residents. For the victims’ communities and the hospitals responsible for treating them, multiple bullet-ridden patients coming to the emergency room all at once from various locations can be as devastating as the more widely reported single-site mass shootings, reports Philly.com. A new Temple University study found that Philadelphia has seen 244 clusters of three or more gunshot patients rushed to a single hospital at once in an 11-year period. On three occasions, six or more patients were brought in as a single cluster.
The study analyzed data from the Philadelphia Police Department on more than 14,000 firearm injuries between 2005 and 2015. Researchers looked at how many patients arrived at the same hospital within 15 minutes of each other. Seeing clusters of gunshot patients is a near daily occurrence in Philadelphia, said Jessica Beard, a co-author of the study and a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital. Doctors call the influx of patients “an everyday mass shooting.” Beard hopes the study helps people understand the toll of gun violence that she sees every day. “It’s horrible to tell somebody’s mom that they’ve died and you can’t save them,” she said. “It’s horrible to tell someone they’ll never walk again. It’s horrible to wash blood off your shoes.” Research shows there’s a high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder among trauma surgeons and citizens alike — a reminder of the community-wide impact of gun violence.