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What You Should Know To Help Shooting Victims

Morning News Headlines 05/14/13      In the wake of Sunday’s second-line shooting medical experts are stressing the importance of knowing how to help shooting victims before paramedics arrive.

The parade route was peppered with injured people who were dazed and confused.

“Typical of a shooting; and unfortunately we have too many of those in this city,” Dr. Norman McSwain said.

Dr. McSwain is a Tulane trauma surgeon at University Medical Center.

He says the moments between a shooting and the time it takes paramedics to arrive are critical in saving lives; especially when there is blood loss.

“Patients with a major hemorrhage can die within 4 to 5 minutes,” McSwain explained. “So it’s really important to get control of that hemorrhage.”

Its why McSwain is working with a team of medical experts to teach people what to do until trained medical experts arrive.

In this climate of mass shootings, like Sandy Hook, and Aurora it means training every day citizens to first make sure the victim’s airway is not obstructed.

Then it’s time to stop the bleeding.

“You can stop it  on the extremities by putting pressure directly on the point of injury,” McSwain said.

If a tourniquet is available, he says use it.

“Back up y’all give her some air,” a witness to Sunday’s shooting said.

Sunday concerned citizens got it right.

But McSwain dispels medical myths about shooting scenes; for example, the common belief that victims should not be moved.

“Let her come up, let her come up,” a witness said. “She good don’t let her come up.”

McSwain says unlike blunt trauma caused in car crashes, moving a shooting victim generally will not cause brain or spine injuries.

He also says it’s not necessary to keep patients talking.

“Come on babe, talk to her, talk to her,”  a concerned citizen said.

“It doesn’t make a lot of difference if you keep them talking or not,” McSwain said. “What’s most important is if you keep the air moving in and out of their lungs.”

Sunday’s victims were in so much pain, many of them could hardly move.

McSwain explains why.

“The thought process is I’ll just stay still because if I move it might hurt me; and so they stay down or lay down,” McSwain said. “As you saw one person on their hands and knees, just maintain quietness or stillness if you would until somebody is able to help them.”

McSwain says medical experts have already begun training police and teachers how to stabilize shooting victims in the New Orleans area.