What can you say? What can you do? Are there solutions? These are all questions we ask ourselves.

Just a few days before the Umpqua Community College shooting, I was hanging out with a couple of fellow firefighters/paramedics from different agencies in Oregon. Little did we know that one of us would be the first paramedic and medical responder on scene.

During a mass casualty incident (MCI), the first EMS personnel on scene aren’t running around placing tourniquets, administering fluids, or saving lives at a record rates. They are performing one of the most difficult jobs in the world of emergency medicine: triage. From start to finish, the first on scene are there, categorizing every victim and deciding who is and who isn’t a priority. Whether young or old, a mass shooting is the worst day of your career as a medic.

Patients have a card attached that states their level of need, order of treatment, or if resources are better used elsewhere. The individuals working triage must make these decisions. There is no re-do, instant replay, or second-guessing and time-wasting. Not every decision will be perfect, but decisive action is necessary.

Mass Shootings and Social Currency

I want to give a shout-out to these often overlooked first responders and thank them for the countless lives they’ve saved and sleepless nights endured.

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Luckily, I happened to be busy the few days following the shooting in my home state of Oregon. Sometimes it’s better to reflect on what really happened than let the fingers fly free in a social media frenzy. Maybe Facebook and Twitter should put a three-day waiting period on posting after a tragedy strikes. Chances are, the hate and gossip would still make its way through in the end. No one really tends to listen in a period of panic; everyone just waits for their turn to speak. 

Take all the guns away….

If only someone was there carrying concealed….

How does that old saying go? “Shit in one hand, hope in another, and tell me which one fills up faster.”

Maybe there isn’t a solution to the problem of school shootings and maybe there is. I know we won’t make progress until we let social currency die by any means necessary.

Social currency

Our world lives off of social currency, especially in “my First-World problem is bigger than yours, USA.” We’re the champions of basing our worth on how we, our friends, and our family are viewed socially. This can be based on a large scale or specifically within our dogmatic political demographics. Once committed to a particular set of ideas, there is a certain group of people who will spout, comment, Retweet, or push the “like button” to some of the most heinous and hateful content the social stratosphere offers—all for social currency.

They call for the banning of firearms in one breath and the beheading of a dentist in the next. Others scream for more gun rights while posting racially satirical photos and comments on each others’ pages. These groups are not so different. Both are clamoring for social currency.

I’m hoping we can all agree that individuals who commit mass shootings are a different kind of evil and on the same sociopathic level as the most genocidal dictators in mankind’s history. All of these individuals thought they were bigger than anything the world had to offer. They were also engulfed in the idea of building a legacy the world would never forget.

School shooting don’t scare me because of the frequency, reasoning, or tragedy. There will always be evil in this world and terrible things will happen. They scare away the genuine hope I used to have for our country. Not because of the shooter, but because of the incessant need that people have to cash in on events they really aren’t that sad about. If you asked most people about the Umpqua shooting, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you the name of anyone else besides the shooter or the man who rushed the gunman. In a week’s time, they will probably forget those, too. People are waiting for their turn to become famous, either with a gun or with a keyboard in their hands.

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But then.

I have this two-year-old daughter. Needless to say, I’m pretty fond of her. It’s hard not to think about your kid(s) when school shootings pop up at a fairly regular frequency. I always tend to wonder how my views would change, if at all, if my child was killed in one of these incidents. I assume anyone who says they don’t think about it is lying for the sake of false confidence and social currency. I know plenty of men who are rock solid and as calm as the best of them, but harm their children? Watch the world split in two.

(Featured image courtesy of huffpost.com)