UCI Health is the only certified Level I adult trauma center in Orange County.
Last year, trauma surgeon Dr. Theresa Chin said they treated nearly 150 people for injuries involving firearms.
She said gun violence is a big problem that impacts everyone.
“Nobody’s immune from gun violence,” Chin said. “We’re all affected.”
She said treating these types of preventable injuries can take a toll on them.
“One will die in front of us and then the next one, we have to continue on and care for them as if nothing had happened,” Chin said. “What’s the hardest is probably when children die and when you lose children, particularly, it can be really challenging especially if you have children of your own.”
Also, Chin said incidents like the Buffalo supermarket shooting, the massacre inside a Texas elementary school and the most recent shooting that left four people, including two doctors, dead at a Tulsa hospital, show gun violence can happen anywhere.
“We come to work to help people and knowing that our lives can be in danger from something like this is very scary,” she said.
However, surgical care fellow Dr. Claire Sakae said health care workers have a job to do.
“Every patient we have is somebody’s kid,” Sakae said. “It is somebody’s family and everybody matters to somebody else so having them just reminds me how much everybody matters.”
President Joe Biden has urged Congress to take action on guns in the wake of recent mass tragedies in communities across the country.
Parents of victims and survivors of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde will appear before a House committee next week as lawmakers debate gun measures.
In the meantime, health care workers like Dr. Chin encourage everyone to learn how to stop a gunshot wound from bleeding until help arrives.
“Put some pressure on it,” she said. “If you’re able, if it looks like it’s bleeding a lot, you can put on a tourniquet. You can use a belt, you can use a t-shirt, you can use anything.”
Chin said some medical associations are lobbying for gun reform at the state and national level.
At UCI, she said they are working on gun safety education and mental health awareness campaigns focused on helping people in this community.
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