THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 552.1 Guest: Gail LeCompte, NEMA...Thomas Blair, Video Producer...Alex Scott, student actor Topic: NEMA's "In a Flash" gun violence prevention educational video Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Over the past 11 years...more than 28, 500 American children and teenagers have been struck down - killed by guns. But perhaps you've heard that statistic before. What we're still trying to assess is how many juvenile victims of gun violence are still with us...but without arms, legs...with restricted lung capacity, or brain function, without voice or vision. The National Emergency Medicine Association has produced a video called "In a Flash" to draw attention to the gunshot injuries that never heal...and help middle school kids see the reality that there's more to a gun incident than death or escape. NEMA's Gail LeCompte is an executive producer of "In a Flash"....

LeCompte: NEMA's President Howard Farrington saw a news story about gun violence, where a child kept saying, "I don't want to die"! This prompted some research, and the results confirm that gun related deaths among teens had increased dramatically, but what really startled everyone here was that there was no information available on how many gun injuries had occurred. There didn't appear to be anyone that was addressing this far more prevalent aspect of gun violence.

NEMA: A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1990 showed that an estimated 1 in 20 high school students carried a gun to school sometime in the month before the study....and over the last ten years, we've seen a 1,740 % increase in the number of kids and teens treated for knife and gunshot wounds. In the video, aimed at the 10 to 14 year olds in middle schools, the difference between a real and a Hollywood gun battle is stressed...as are the ways a bullet can destroy a human body...and the way a gun incident affects family, friends and the community as a whole. It points out that a kid's probability of being shot goes up when he carries a gun, or hangs out with someone who does. This is "In a Flash" director Thomas Blair...

BLAIR: The thing that I thought about most of all was the, really the vast number of kids that are out there who are trying desperately to cope with life in schools and in their neighborhoods. And these are kids who really want to succeed. And that's who I really wanted to direct this video at...as a way in which, hopefully, they can take a little something from it as a tool to try to get through these dangerous times that they live in and be able to go on to adulthood and achieve.

NEMA: Blair says the 60 kids involved in the video were all aware of the dangers posed by children with guns. Alex Scott played Jared, the boy who was shot and crippled in a fight with a friend...he says it's tough for young people to resist the lure of carrying weapons...

SCOTT: ...cause in the inner city, you don't really see that many positive role models, especially males...and when you get a whole bunch of thugs or whatever together, and you have a whole bunch of middle schoolers looking at them, they're going to become their role models. If they see somebody who's older, say like 17 or 18 or 19 carrying a gun, then you know middle schoolers, living in the city, being out on the street, are going to know that they have to carry a gun, too...just to stay safe.

NEMA: Scott says middle school kids don't really make the connection between gun wounds and life-long injuries...And like many kids in the hood, Alex has his own personal gun story...

SCOTT: I don't carry, even though I feel like the need to sometimes. My friend loaned me his gun one day...and I carried it for one night...and it seems that when you have a gun, trouble comes to you. It's just like a signal that you give off.

NEMA: "In a Flash"...lives end, hopes are crippled, families and friends suffer. "In a Flash" will be distributed to middle schools throughout Maryland, will include a teachers' curriculum guide...and will be available soon for middle schools and other groups around the country. For information, call 800-332-6362. I'm Steve Girard.