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Inside Shock Trauma: On the front line of a city in crisis

Inside Shock Trauma: On the front line of a city in crisis (WBFF)

BALTIMORE, Md. (WBFF) -- In the midst of a city in crisis, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center is fighting the crisis everyday on the front line.

This year marks Dr. Thomas Scalea's 20th as the head of the nation's premier trauma center.

"Many national legislators said, we have to do something to help Chicago... I'm not saying it's not a terrible problem in Chicago, but per capita, we have twice as many homicides," Dr. Scalea said. "How many more parents do I have to tell their kid is dead?"

In a city in crisis, Shock Trauma Center is in the middle of it all. Registered nurse Frank Wong added, "to see that level of violence all the time, is it heartbreaking? Yeah. But here do I have time for that? No.

"You just detach and you have to do your job."

When 22 people with life threatening injuries were admitted to the specialized unit - seven of them victims of violence - this was considered a quiet night for the nurses of Shock Trauma.

Within three minutes of a call that a gun shot victim was on the way, more than two dozen nurses carefully choreographed equipment clearing way for Baltimore's newest victim of violence.


"I don't see any reason why someone needs to pick up a gun and kill somebody else. There's nothing inherent in our society that makes that OK," Scalea said.

With Baltimore City reaching nearly a homicide a day, victims of violence have become the new normal.

"It doesn't make it OK," Scalea said. "And it doesn't make it rational and it doesn't make it necessary."

"It used to be something that happens, now it happens all the time," he continued.

In the past two years, 20 percent of patients came to Shock Trauma because of violence, primarily victims of stabbings or shootings.

Now hitting record levels of violence in the city, Shock Trauma is seeing a 3 percent increase in victims of violence. Scalea said it's a significant change from before the death of Freddie Gray.

Wong added, "we used to say summer is our busy season and winters would drop off a bit. This year has been fairly steady and then our busy season is phenomenal. Unbelievable almost how numb we have come to it. We see it so many times, two to three shootings a night on average. Easy."

Where very few things are easing the crisis, the trauma center is, boasting a 96 percent save rate.

"Everybody is really working pretty hard at this," Scalea said. "If there wasn't Shock Trauma, if there wasn't the same level of organization, what would the number be? I don't know. But it would be substantially higher. No question about that."

On this night (in the video above) it's one life saved. One less number to add to the crisis.

"Am I proud of us for doing that? Hell yes I'm proud of us for doing that. Do I wish we didn't have to do it? Yeah, but as long as it happens we're gonna be here. We're gonna try to do the impossible, some days we do it," Scalea said.

Even the moments of quiet won't last long, because this fight is far from over.

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