We tend to associate gun violence with homicides—the most serious act of violence. But in Jackson County, from New Year’s Day 2017 through New Year’s Eve 2022, there were also 3,061 non-fatal shootings. COMBAT-funding supports programs toward not only trying to prevent all violence, but also to help these “bullet-to-skin” victims become survivors. These programs focus on treating all the wounds a bullet can inflict, including psychological damage, and on preventing retaliations that only result in more shootings, more victims.
Even for those fortunate enough to survive a bullet piercing their skin and violating their body, recovering physically might be only half the struggle. “To not address the psychological trauma done to survivors puts them at grave risk,” stresses Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “That’s something those in the medical profession and those of us in the legal profession are responding to because the odds increase once a person has been shot that they will be shot again—and the next time their wounds might be fatal.” That’s why Peters Baker worked with Truman Medical Center/University Health (TMC/UH) administrators and front-line staff to introduce Project RISE in September of 2019. The Responsive Individual Support and Early intervention program consists of behavioral health professionals, nurses, social workers and chaplains working to make sure people who’ve suffered from gun violence have all the resources needed to fully recover. COMBAT has funded Project RISE from its inception.
Caring For Crime Survivors
Doing More Than Patching Holes
KU Trauma Surgeon Robert Winfield is dedicated to doing more than just patching the holes a bullet leaves behind in his patients. Read his first-person account of treating gunshot wounds: "I remember the day that my perspective on gun violence changed forever. I was the trauma surgeon on call at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. I was making my way through the labyrinthine hallway to the emergency department to see a patient who had been in a car crash, when I was stopped by a nurse who asked, 'Dr. Winfield, did you take care of that kid who got shot in the butt yesterday?' The case had taken place less than 24 hours prior, but was already among the more memorable of the surgeries I had performed in my life."