As it’s done following prior mass shootings, the American College of Emergency Physicians is once again offering its members access to training and emotional-support tools after last weekend’s tragic events in El Paso and Dayton.
After two mass shootings killed 31 people last weekend, the American College of Emergency Physicians stepped into action, immediately sending out resources to help its 40,000 members respond to active shooter incidents, offering support, and looking for ways to lead.
“We have a fair amount of resources posted on our website,” said ACEP Executive Director Dean Wilkerson, CAE. “We immediately pushed them out to our chapters.”
Wilkerson said ACEP’s goal after an event like this is to make sure its members understand the resources available. “Often, your members don’t know all the good stuff you’re doing, and they don’t know all the programs and resources and advocacy on their behalf,” he said.
The emergency shooting information ACEP offers includes best-practices training for physicians and reminders about what to do if they are treating shooting victims, as well as practical help for members in the shooting area. “After Las Vegas, [doctors there] said they were busy treating the patients that day, but ‘I looked on your website and it helped me the next day,’” Wilkerson said, describing comments from members working in Las Vegas area hospitals in 2017 when a shooting left 59 dead and more than 500 injured.
In addition, ACEP offers support tools to help physicians deal with the emotional trauma that comes with treating mass shooting patients. “We have resources around physician wellness, burnout, and resiliency,” Wilkerson said. “If you have 10 shooting victims come through your emergency department, you are going to have PTSD. We have resources on wellness and healing to help those physicians.”
The materials the organization has online are extensive, built up over the last decade with the goal of keeping information current. “We continually improve them and add to them,” Wilkerson said, noting the organization has more than 40 special-interest subgroups in emergency medicine that dive deep into a subject. “One is tactical medicine; they work with local law enforcement and SWAT teams,” he said. “They have developed some materials we use.”
Materials ACEP creates also come from members who have been on the frontlines of treating shooting victims. “We have them participate in panels and share their experiences, so other members can be more prepared when it happens in their area,” Wilkerson said.
ACEP doesn’t only share its own resources: It also includes links to information from government health and law enforcement agencies and shares research from the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine.
Outside of tools and resources, the most recent shootings had caused ACEP to examine its policy positions on gun crime reduction measures. “We are surveying our leadership to see what advocacy positions they support,” Wilkerson said. While members vary on support of gun control measures and ACEP is sensitive to that, he said the organization also wants to lead on this issue that affects so many members.
“More and more of our members are being impacted by gun violence. It is wearing on them,” Wilkerson said. “It is concerning—they see the violence every day. They see gunshot wounds, they see little kids who are killed, and then there are these mass shooting. They want us to provide some leadership.”