We See Trauma Day After Day, a trauma worker

this is from, it explains, a trauma social worker….listen to her story. I agree. This needs to be told as well. Steve

photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz


I am the trauma social worker at one of the city’s Level I trauma centers. I see and meet with almost every gunshot/stabbing victim (and all other patients) that get admitted to our facility.  I talk to the patients, their families, their fellow gang members that sometimes visit.  I have noticed in the time I’ve worked at the hospital that this is part of the violence story that does not get told- the police/law enforcement story gets told, the outraged neighborhood story is told, but our story is never told.

I’ve worked with trauma patients for about 2 1/2 years and for the past year I’ve been working exclusively with the trauma service.  As cliche as the saying is, every day is something new and there are no “Aha” conclusions about violence or gangs that can be drawn.  The only thing I’ve really learned is that everyone wants to be looked in the eye, and to feel like they are being heard and matter.  I did grow up in rural, small community and look the part to these inner-city yahoos and some definitely take advantage of trying to shock me, but I’m not naive to think that listening alone will change their circumstances.

The gang creates the primer for all the violence to take place.  Usually, there is some “disagreement” over something completely benign-like or insignificant but because of the gang (the two individuals were of different allegiances, or one person needed to prove themselves within the gang, or someone was in charge of overseeing the drugs and therefore the money and “mishandled” it or someone ripped them off, etc) violence ensued.

And most importantly, gang alliance allows for better access to guns.  What is even more sad, is that I cannot tell you how often we (trauma team- physicians, nurses, nurse practitioner, and myself) end of getting to know a whole family due to treating various members of the family for various injuries, or treating one member for multiple injuries that seem to increase in severity until the last one is fatal.

Often I know and talk to our patients more frequently then I talk to members of my own family.  I think that there is confusion in identifying the “problem.”  I think we have identified violence as the overall problem, and begun looking for a solution(s).  But it is merely a symptom of all of our society’s ails.  I think this is why CeaseFire has been so successful.


—and here’s an appeal for community action…please read this link




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