Dr. Durian Alexander had just set foot in the emergency room and was immediately able to feel what he could expect for the rest of the shift.
The scent is floating in the air, something I’ve always noticed at Brooklyn hospitals. Recently, the smell of blood has become more common. Gun violence in the city is one of the strongest detentions of the community surrounding his hospital.
“It smells a bit metallic, and I’m just with you,” Alexander (36) said. He said he couldn’t stop the odor, even after returning home and taking a shower, especially on intense days. “I know it when it smells.”
A level 1 trauma center, Brookdale is the victim’s lifeline in East New York and Brownsville, one of the most torn areas of gun violence in the city. And after struggling to help their community survive the outbreak of Covid-19, Alexander and the rest of the staff found that they were now facing another crisis.
“Daylight, people are being shot”
In Brookdale, more than 100 victims were shot dead in June, July, and August this year, according to hospital data, compared to the same time last year.
During these three months, there were 149 gunshot victims in Brookdale-38 in June, 66 in July, 45 in August. Last year, 55 gunshot victims were killed, 12 in June, 25 in July, and 18 in August.
And while shooting numbers continue to rise to levels not seen in New York City over the years, hospital staff are struggling to save the victims. This work is not only more frequent, but more problematic. This is a strong indicator that violence will not stop.
“In the last few months, what we’ve recently noticed is 9am, 10am, 11am, lots of daytime, people being shot. People are being killed.” Sometimes, “Wow, it’s 10am. I got up at 5am to work. What time did this person get up to shoot someone at 10 o’clock? People used to think. Is safe.”
According to Alexander, it is not only daytime safety that is dangerous. He has more and more gunshot wounds, making it ultimately difficult to save lives.
According to the hospital, 81% of the patients who were shot dead in July were in crisis and required level 1 trauma treatment.
“Usually someone will have been shot twice, maybe three times, but we’re talking 20 or 30 times. One person,” Alexander said. “That means doctors know that at that point, our ability to save that person is almost nonexistent. Too many places are too damaging to control anything.”
Explosion of gun violence in summer in New York
As Covid-19 came under control, gun violence strengthened its influence on the city. According to NYPD statistics, as of August 27, there were 974 shootings throughout New York City, almost double the number of 527 in the previous year. Also, last year there were 1,174 shooting victims of 602 people.
Mayor Bill de Brascio and several NYPD officials cited what was termed a “perfect storm” of the events that led to the increase in gun violence. Killing the George Floyd police, The recent police reform bill that caused police to be pulled down, and the recent release from prison for Covid-19 and bail reform.
East New York and Brownsville are the two districts that have led the city in shooting. So far, Brownsville had 66 shooting cases by the end of August (25 last year). There are also many shooting victims, 77 compared to 43 in the previous year. In East New York, there were 84 casualties compared to 50 in the previous year. 65 incidents compared to 41 last year.
And while shootings have surged in the city, gun arrests are still rising, but not as fast as last year.
As of August 23, there were 2,062 gun arrests, down from 2,221 last year.
“Since June 1, the city has just exploded with gun violence,” said NYPD chief Michael Lipetri, chief of crime management strategy.
“We have a lot of people committing quality of life crimes, be it gambling street dice or drinking. Unfortunately, it turns into violence after the fact. We’re committing firearm-related violence,” says Li Petri. He added that drug-related firing was another driver of violence.
City data edited by Mayor’s Criminal Justice Department Of the 1,500 people released from prison for the coronavirus, only seven were shown to have been re-arrested for gun crimes. Only 1% of all persons released from prison between March 16 and April 30 have been re-arrested with a weapons charge as of mid-July, the mayor’s office. Says the data.
“There are many factors and we can’t concentrate on one of them,” said Li Petri, who said the number of prisoners released was close to 2,000.
“Regular” is the victim
LiPetri has been frankly told that crime statistics are about victims, not numbers. Dr. Alexander also sees people beyond statistics.
“When you say it’s a gun violence, the majority of people are thinking about TV gangs or something like that,” Alexander said. “No. Ordinary people. Ordinary people, 30’s, 20’s, 10’s, preteens, people under 10 years of age. Those are the ones we see. It’s profound.”
Dr. Patricia O’Neill, trauma medical director at Brookdale, said there were three recent gunshot wound victims. One was shot 10 times. The other had a bullet in his neck and pierced his face. The other serious injury was a teenager who was shot only once and a bullet was torn in his chest, but for some reason he sat neatly between his heart, aorta and esophagus.
“He was 19 and still had braces,” O’Neill said of a “magic bullet” victim.
“It just made me think he was very young.”
But what should not be ignored was the vicious cycle of violence fueled by a lack of cooperation and revenge.
“In these particular shots, people don’t want to cooperate because they want to go out and manage it themselves,” Clark said. “When an incident occurs, no arrests will be made because there are uncooperative victims, which means that the person who filmed it will not be liable. And retaliation with their own people involved, and then you have another victim.”
“A real miracle”
There are victims that Alexander will never forget.
Once there was a woman shot behind her head, the bullet stayed in the middle of her brain. Not only was she alive, she was conscious.
“My arms and legs move, I talk, I communicate, I blink my eyes, I talk to you. It’s a miracle,” Alexander said.
Then, on New Year’s Eve 2019, there was an overnight shift, and I had to give news to a man’s family who had not survived the shooting. He was then told by the detective that his patient was the first murder of the New Year. What he remembers most is that the family was crying while crying.
“I apologize for their loss,” Alexander said. “Unfortunately, it’s probably everyday and mundane, and while people who hear this outside hear it over and over again, it’s probably one of the most honest words to share as a doctor.”
And last month a young man was shot in the abdomen, but there was plenty of room to brag about being injured on Instagram.
“You see it from time to time,” Alexander said. “They want to go live on Instagram, go to Facebook and say, “Slightly shot. It’s a gang.” No, you almost died, and your mother would have been regretted. “
From Covid-19 patients to gunshot victims
And while gunshot victims keep coming and going, Alexander finds that the rest of the staff, already cruel taxed after dealing with him and Covid-19 patients, remains in sufficient tanks for the patients. I’ll try to confirm.
Just referring to Brookdale Hospital during the outbreak of Covid-19, Alexander felt distrust and resentment with his eyes closed and his head shot down. Only a few months ago, the ICU in Brookdale was flooded with sick and scary Covid-19 patients, according to city data. In fact, East New York and Brownsville were two of the city’s most damaged areas.
The patient’s bed lined with refrigerated trucks and hospital corridors, designed as spaces for morgues, were flooded with victims who could not be saved.
Alexander said he slept for 4 to 6 hours a night and did not take a break from 20 February to 17 April.
“It was emotionally traumatic and emotionally painful, but it was very different from the public health emergency of gun violence,” the doctor said.
“I’m not in the business.’Oh, I’ll be shot by 30 people today.’ I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “I go to work thinking that I am going to help others and I need to take care of them. I don’t know how traumatic to me. Emotionally, mentally and physically, It depends on what comes in through that door.”
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