DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — It has become almost an everyday occurrence in Durham where the police sirens sound and the yellow crime scene tape goes up after another person is shot in the Bull City.
According to the latest data from the Durham Police Department, there have been 840 shootings so far this year, 279 people have been shot, and 25 of those individuals have died.
So far the number of people who have been shot this year is up 43 percent from the 161 people who were shot this time last year.
The increasing number of shootings is taking a toll on the staff in the emergency department at Duke University Hospital.
“I would say we probably see 10 gunshot wound victims a week, more than 1 per day on average,” said Dr. Suresh Agarwal, Division Chief for Trauma, Acute, and Critical Care surgery at the hospital.
“There are some days where we don’t see any and there are other days where we see multiple gunshot wounds.”
Agarwal said two-thirds of the shooting victims that come into the emergency room undergo surgery.
“We see quite a few teenagers and patients in their early 20s,” Agarwal said.
Mavis Peaks’ 10-year-old son Michael is one of the youngest patients that has come into the hospital for surgery this year.
Michael was struck by a stray bullet while on his way to his grandmother’s house in September.
After spending a month in the hospital and having multiple surgeries, he is now back at home.
“At the end of the day I still have my son,” Peaks said.
The doctors who helped Michael walk again have operated on more than 150 gunshot wound victims this year.
Agarwal said they often have to bring in back up crews to help if there are multiple victims that come in at a time.
“We have had to use that backup system more this year than we have had to in the past,” Dr. Agarwal said.
Agarwal said the influx of gunshot victims has created another concern for the hospital.
“Having all of these patients come in with gunshot wounds, they are being taken care of in the hospital and there are fewer hospital beds for other people that need them,” Agarwal said. “I think we need to invest in our research and preventive measures for all sorts of traumas, in particular gunshot wounds.”
Agarwal said the number of people they are treating for stabbings is also on the rise. He said they currently treat an average of 4 people a week who have been stabbed.
He said that this year the hospital has seen a 50 percent increase in non-accidental penetrating trauma (gunshot wounds and stabbings) compared to last year.
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