MILWAUKEE — In the last two weeks, three law enforcement officers in Milwaukee have been shot. Thankfully, all have been able to walk out of the hospital.
Although a trauma surgeon at Froedtert Hospital says they are better able to help gunshot victims survive, sometimes a matter of millimeters means the difference between life and death.
The president of the Milwaukee Police Association Andrew Wagner has a hard time explaining how three officers shot multiple times were able to not only survive but leave the hospital so quickly.
“I think a guardian angel must have been looking over all three of those officers. The places they were shot. The regions those bullet went in would describe nothing less. These are areas where you would expect to see life-threatening type injuries,” said Wagner.
Froedtert Hospital trauma surgeon Dr. David Milia says in the last few years they have focused on teaching first responders to ‘stop the bleed,' where they show them how to apply tourniquet and pack gunshot wounds with gauze or cloths. Dr. Milia says that can help keep a victim alive. But sometimes where a bullet travels in a body can be the difference between life and death.
- Milwaukee police officer shot near 21st and St. Paul released from hospital
- Milwaukee County deputy who was shot multiple times released from hospital
"It's all about the organs and the blood vessels that are injured. And like I said, it can be the difference of millimeters, the difference between an injury to a major blood vessel or critical organ,” said Milia.
What Milia has seen is more gunshot victims overall. Last year in Milwaukee, there were 1,052 people who were shot and survived, in 2020 there were 752 non-fatal shootings and in 2019, there were 444. That is a 137% increase in two years.
While non-fatal shootings increased, so has assaults against police officers, according to the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. The WPPA says the latest national data shows since 2017, there has been a 42% increase in assaults against police officers. In 2020, 1,100 police officers were assaulted.
Wagner says because of that increase, it could make officers more on guard and more prepared to protect themselves if need be.
“Officers may be a little more tactically sound in how they approach situations because of the recent shootings,” said Wagner.
But even for those who survive, Milia says they will continue to deal with their injuries long after they walk out of a hospital.
"The natural destructive nature of firearm injuries, you know that tissue damage can occur. That the amount of pain it causes these open wounds. Even if nothing vital or critical is injured, that's something these patients have to live with for the rest of their life,” said Milia.
It was reported in both cases where an MPD officer was shot, community members stepped in and tried to give aid. Milia says one of the most important things someone can do besides dialing 911 is apply pressure to a wound.