The Crippling Wounds of Mass-shooting ‘Survivors’

July 9th, 2016 - by admin

Timothy “Meteor Blades” Lange / The Daily Kos – 2016-07-09 01:09:19

Massive Injuries from Bullets Fired by AR-15s
and their Imitators Can Plague their Victims for Life

Timothy “Meteor Blades” Lange / The Daily Kos

(July 8, 2016) — In our recollections of mass shootings, we remember the tally of the dead: Aurora — 12; Sandy Hook — 27; San Bernardino — 14; Orlando — 49; Fort Hood — 13; Dallas — 5. But, as frequently is the case, the number of wounded outnumbers the slain, just as is the case on the battlefield.

There were 70 injured in the Aurora theater, for example, 30 at Fort Hood, 53 in Orlando, 9 in Dallas. For many of them, the nightmare didn’t end when the shooter died or was captured. The impact of their wounds can continue for months or years or a lifetime.

This is especially likely to be the case when an AR-15 or one of its imitators, chambered for the lightweight, high-velocity .223 caliber cartridge, is the shooter’s weapon of choice. That is the misfortune of the three police officers still listed in critical condition in Dallas hospitals after Thursday’s shootings and for some of the injured victims in Orlando.

Why is this so? How is it that a bullet that is half the weight of those carried by American soldiers for their rifles during World War II can be so much more damaging than the larger bullet? It’s about cavitation.

When a bullet penetrates an object, it creates a temporary cavity. When a .223 62-grain bullet strikes a human body at more than 3,000 feet per second, that cavity is massive — it can be the size of bowling ball.

This happens because the bullet is inherently unstable in flight and tumbles through the body unlike a heavier bullet that generally travels in a straight line. Quite often, the horrific wound this causes is lethal. When it’s not, the victim can carry the consequences around forever after.

For instance, the injured victims of Orlando slayer Omar Mateen’s AR-15 rifle have all been released from the hospital now. But while the immediate trauma is over, treatment and residual effects are not. Here are Richard Luscombe and Jessica Glenza reporting at The Guardian this past weekend.

Michael Cheatham, chief surgical quality officer at the Orlando regional medical center told them the injuries he and six other surgeons saw after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub were more complex and more difficult to repair than the usual gunshot victims they see:

“We take care of a lot of gunshot wounds as a level one trauma center,” Cheatham added, “and have had 20 more victims unrelated to the Pulse event just in the last two weeks, so it’s something we see fairly frequently.

“[But] the bullet wounds that were sustained in the Pulse event were clearly different. The energy behind the bullet is much greater and the speed of the bullet is much greater, so as a result, when that bullet hits tissue, it tends to cause a blast effect, sending out shockwaves.

“The wounds we saw in these victims tended to be much more severe. Instead of a fracture, it was a severe fracture; instead of just a bruised or contused lung, these were lung injuries to a much greater magnitude.

Even though AR-15 and its clones are semi-automatic and do not, technically speaking, fit the definition of an assault rifle — as foes of gun reform explain relentlessly — its impact on victims is the same as on the battlefield. Having such weapons so readily available for purchase in most states is a big price to pay for a “gun that is fun to shoot.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.