Watch CBS News

Doctors and nurses at one of the nation's top trauma centers reflect on increase in gun violence

Inside a trauma center amid gun violence crisis
Inside a trauma center amid the gun violence crisis 02:22

Miami's Ryder Trauma Center sees about 400 gunshot wound victims a year. 

On the night CBS News was at the hospital, doctors and nurses treated several patients with bullets embedded in their legs or with literal holes in their hands.

"You see people on their worst day, and they're on death's door," nurse Beth Sundquist said.

Sundquist told CBS News that those who can make it to a level one trauma center such as Ryder have a better chance at survival.

"In a matter of minutes, you can have your trauma surgeon here, and it's the same one that walks back into the operating room," she said. "And if you went to a small hospital, you wouldn't survive."

What strikes Dr. Gabriel Ruiz is how young many victims of day-to-day gun violence are.

"It's the biggest killer of children in our country, and that impact we don't even know how big it is," Ruiz said. "But we think that it might be bigger than cancer and cardiovascular disease, smoking and obesity, things that we as a society actually work on. I think the impact of gun violence is greater than those diseases."

The wounds are also becoming more severe due to the availability of high-powered guns, according to Ruiz.

"We see also patients that have very, very serious injuries with very high energy weapons that actually mimic those that are seen in war in, you know scenarios where there's active war going on," he told CBS News.

In fact, Ryder Trauma Center is where the U.S. Army trains some of its trauma surgeons before they're deployed.

"I think that it gives them the ability to really work on their team dynamics and hopefully better prepare them for if they're about to deploy or any type of activation that they may be having in the future," said Dr. Ian Fowler and army major who serves as one of the trauma surgeon instructors.

But it's these doctors and nurses at Ryder who are deployed to the front lines of America's gun violence epidemic. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.