On Wednesday, 14-year-old Nicholas Elizalde was laid to rest.
Nicholas was one of six football players shot on their way home from a scrimmage at Roxborough High School. The other five students were injured. Police are currently looking for 16-year-old Dayron Burney-Thorn in connection with the shooting.
For everyone who believes that the city’s gun violence problems could be solved if there were more activities available for Philadelphia’s children, the shooting showed that keeping our kids active might not be enough to keep them out of the line of fire. From members of the Philadelphia Eagles to members of City Council, the shooting in general, and Nicholas’s death in particular, hit home.
(We’re not going to talk about the fact that Nicholas was supposed to have his 15th birthday party this weekend.)
While Philadelphians had a lot to say about the shooting itself, Philadelphia City Council looked at it from a different perspective when it met on Sept. 29.
It looked at the fact that Nicholas had to pass at least two hospitals near his home to get treatment for his wounds because the nearest Level 1 Trauma Center, a place that may have been able to save his life, was in Olney.
Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones, chair of Council’s Committee on Public Safety, introduced a resolution that would allow his committee to partner with the Committee on Health and Human Services to hold a hearing that will look at to map out trauma centers around the city and how they’re selected.
Jones was inspired to introduce the resolution when he found out that Nicholas had to be rushed to Einstein Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. To get to Einstein, he had to be driven by two other hospitals.
It’s in the city’s best interest to find out why that is, Jones said.
“As I understand it, and I don’t know the economics of having a trauma center, they’re very expensive,” he said. “You have to have certain types of equipment, certain doctors on call in order to qualify as such. So in the business of saving someone’s life it is probably better to bypass a hospital that doesn’t have all of that set up, waiting and ready to go and take them to a hospital further away that’s better equipped. So it begs the question, how do we get closer hospitals better equipped to deal with not just gun violence, but if you have a heart attack.”
These hearings will discuss how many trauma centers there are in the city, where these centers are located, how much it costs to set up a Right now, no one knows how many trauma centers there are nearby, should there be a regional center, and whether the city can or should invest in them.
But let’s be honest here. There was a time when no one batted an eye about there not being a trauma center in Roxborough Hospital. Of all of the sections of the city where you might expect to see a gunshot victim, they were among the last. While trauma centers also handle massive heart attacks and trauma from car accidents, it probably wasn’t enough to warrant all the equipment you need to be classified as a Level 1 Trauma Center.
That was then. This is now.
If there’s anything that Philadelphians should have gotten from the shootings at Roxborough High School, it should have gotten the message that no one is immune. At a time when, for reasons no one seems to know, anyone anywhere can catch a bullet, it might be a good idea to have more places for people to get treatment.
There is no word on when these hearings will be held, but everyone should try and attend them.
These days, your life may depend on it.
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