Philadelphia stands alone among cities with high violent crime rates for its devotion to a first-responder strategy in which police cars race shooting and stabbing victims to hospitals rather than wait for ambulances. In every-second-counts trauma care, they say it saves lives — and buffs the image of the cops.
Among cities with the highest rates of homicide, Philadelphia is the only one where police routinely rush gunshot and stab wound victims to the nearest trauma center instead of waiting for an ambulance, The Trace reports. The practice — known as “scoop and run” or “scoop and go” — has little science behind it to show that it increases survival rates markedly. And other cities cite a litany of reasons why they don’t push the practice. But Philadelphia trauma doctors believe it saves lives. “Patients often survive the initial gunshot, but unfortunately a large number of them bleed out fairly quickly, within seconds and minutes,” says Marcin Jankowski, the head of trauma and surgical critical care at Hahnemann University Hospital, one of the city’s eight trauma centers. Doctors say the faster these patients can get to a trauma center, the better their chances at survival.
“Scoop and run” is deeply entrenched among the city’s law enforcement officers, who focus their patrol in areas with the highest instances of violent crime and, as a result, frequently beat EMS to crime scenes. Last year, a third of Philadelphia’s 1,223 shooting victims were delivered to a city trauma center in the back of a police cruiser or wagon. At Temple University Hospital, the busiest hospital for gunshot patients in the state, about 70 percent of victims of penetrating trauma arrive by police vehicle or private vehicle, or simply walk in. Beyond its life-saving potential, some say scoop and run could enhance public safety in communities with broad distrust of police. When officers lift victims into the backseats of their cars, they become true first responders, shifting roles from enforcer to guardian, from soldier to protector.