The City of Long Beach came together to take a collective stand against a growing health epidemic – gun violence – which is now the leading cause of death in children, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MemorialCare’s Trauma Center, the Trauma Center at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center, Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach Fire, City of Long Beach Public Health Department, Councilmember Dr. Suely Saro, Councilmember Al Austin, Dr. Erika Torres the deputy superintendent from the California Department of Education, Dr. Anissa Davis the health officer at Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services from the City of Long Beach, representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Barragan, Congressman Garcia, State Senator Gonzalez, and Mayor Richardson –all committed to the cause wearing orange and sharing important messages about steps the community can take to reduce gun violence in our communities.
On average, eight children between the ages of 0 – 12 are killed by firearms every week, and the risk of death by suicide is four times higher for adolescents living in a home with a firearm. In addition, Trauma Centers have seen a 50% increase of gun violence incidents which spurred the teams to get together in a unified front.
“As a trauma center, we hold these kids in our arms and do all we can. I am a mom, and I don’t want my child to be next,” says Stephanie Garcia, RN, MSN, TCRN, director, Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Services, Trauma Center, MemorialCare’s Long Beach Medical Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “As citizens, as a health system, and as a country, it is our duty to act. We simply can’t let this be normal for our kids or grow numb to the violence. As a trauma center, we promise to be here for you when you need us, we just hope you never do.”
The first Friday of June is recognized as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, where supporters wear orange to honor the survivors of gun violence. This tradition originated in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago in 2013. In commemoration of her life, her childhood friends wore orange, the color hunters wear to protect themselves and others in the woods. Ever since 2015, which would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday, #WearOrange has become a growing trend, as mass shootings continue to claim victims each year.