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Doctors assure Santorum: Learning CPR won’t save mass-shooting victims

Republican senator suggested that learning CPR was a better way for young people to take action in response to a mass shooting, rather than protesting

Washington: Doctors and surgeons had an important message for former Republican senator Rick Santorum on Sunday: CPR does not save people who are bleeding to death from AR 15 wounds.

The comments directed at Santorum came after he suggested live on CNN that learning CPR was a better way for young people to take action in response to a mass shooting, rather than protesting gun violence and asking “someone else to solve their problem” by passing a “phoney gun law.”

The panel on CNN’s State of the Union show was discussing the March for our Lives, which drew upward of 800,000 people to the Mall Saturday to demand gun-control legislation. Many of the marchers — including the teenage organisers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz fatally shot 17 people last month — were students.

Santorum argued that they should try to learn how to respond to a mass shooter as an individual rather than demanding large-scale change from lawmakers.

“How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations where there is a violent shooter and you can actually respond to that?” Santorum said. He continued: “They took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I as an individual deal with this problem? How am I gonna do something about stopping bullying in my community? What am I gonna do to actually help respond to a shooter?”

The comments drew ridicule from physicians, among others, who assured Santorum that learning CPR wouldn’t save victims of a mass shooting. He is now among a growing pool of right-wing pundits and politicians who have attacked the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and their allies in the wake of the shooting.

Heather Sher, a Florida-based radiologist who examined the gunshot wounds of at least one Parkland shooting victim on the day of the shooting, called Santorum’s comments “gobsmackingly uninformed.”

“CPR is not effective with catastrophic bleeding,” she said on Twitter. “Speechless! Learn CPR! Everyone should for cardiopulmonary arrest. But for gunshot wounds, a) attend stop the bleeding course by trauma surgeons or b) pass #gunreform (helpful hint: option b is the better option.”

Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, tweeted, “As a Trauma Surgeon & survivor of gun violence, it is critical to clear up the false perception set by @RickSantorum. Victims that go into cardiac arrest after #Gun Violence are Bleeding to Death. CPR is NOT effective in this situation.”

Rebecca Bell, a paediatric critical care doctor at the University of Vermont Medical Center, broke it down in layman’s terms:

“Here are some stats made simple for Rick Santorum,” she said on Twitter. “Survival rate of pulseless trauma victims who get CPR at the scene: VERY, VERY LOW.

“Survival rate of people who don’t get shot in the first place: MUCH, MUCH BETTER.”

During the panel, CNN’s Van Jones responded to Santorum’s suggestion by telling him about his own son soon to be in high school: “If his main way of surviving high school is to learn CPR so that when his friend gets shot … to me, we’ve gone too far.”

Santorum ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, billing himself as a supporter of tea party grass roots efforts to change laws in Washington.

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