‘It does get to you’: Trauma surgeons see effects of Ottawa gun violence cluster
After a shooting in Ottawa, police sirens ring out, paramedics rush to the scene, try to stabilize the victim and speed towards the hospital. When they arrive, the victim enters the care of a trauma surgeon.
In the operating room, among blood transfusion bags and life-support equipment, doctors see the other side of a wave of gun violence that is affecting the city. Here, every moment is critical as surgeons devote all their skills to preventing an armed assault from turning into a homicide.
“The feeling in the room is actually a bit, I don’t want to say tense, because it’s our job and everybody is somehow comfortable with that, but there’s definitely a sense of urgency,” Dr. Jacinthe Lampron, a surgeon and the medical director of the trauma program at The Ottawa Hospital, said in an interview, “because in trauma every minute counts but in penetrating trauma it’s almost like every second counts in terms of keeping them alive.”
Gunfire has claimed the lives of seven people in Ottawa this year and there have been dozens of gunfire incidents, many of which leave victims with long-term injuries.
Lampron and her colleagues have noted the spate of shootings in recent weeks. It has resulted in more patients arriving in the operating room. But the statistics, so far, are not indicative of an unusual spike.
“We do appreciate that there may have been a cluster amongst ourselves, anecdotally,” said Dr. Maher Matar, a trauma surgeon at The Ottawa Hospital. “I think it flattens out over the year or over the month. We may have a little period of time where things are more intense than others.”
“It doesn’t take any of the drama out of that,” Lampron added. “Each one should not happen and is very dramatic.”