Memorial Health seeing increase in accidental shootings

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We have a warning you might not have heard yet - and it’s for something local health leaders say they see year round.

Memorial Health says the state has seen an increase in accidental shootings since the pandemic began. Several of these involving children.

It’s a tragic call that’s becoming more and more frequent at the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah. Their trauma team leaders say they are seeing more children with gunshot wounds.

“This is not just a one time we have a child that gets shot and we are dealing with it in the trauma bay this is a lifelong battle that we are experiencing,” said Kelsey Palladino, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager.

The latest data from 2019 shows there were 563 ER visits for unintentional shootings involving children in Georgia.

“The gunshot wounds that we see here at the trauma unit are not always correlated with violence they are also associated with unintentional injuries and that’s the part that we want to spread the message for because they are preventable,” said Emily Burnside, Injury, Prevention and Disaster Management Coordinator for the Trauma Services Team.

Memorial says they too have seen a lot and it’s happening among all ages. They say when a victim arrives with gunshot wounds it’s all hands-on deck.

“When we’re talking about gunshot wounds in children you have to remember, yes they are not just tiny humans but they littler bodies. So, the impact you see and the injuries that you see are different and can be more significant,” said Palladino.

According to the Georgia stay safe coalition one in three homes with children have guns. That’s why healthcare leaders are urging gunowners to secure their firearms, lock them, store ammo separately and keep away from children. Statistics show eight out of ten unintentional firearm deaths of children occur in a home so they also want you to talk about gun safety.

“Communication is key so speaking to your children or your teenagers about if there is a gun in the home what to do and if you see a gun and you’re not in your home you know don’t touch it, leave it and let an adult know that there is a gun there and make sure that you step away from it,” said Burnside.

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