“I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience violence on a regular basis, to be under that level of stress as part of daily life. I think that’s why our violence prevention responders have become such a critical part of the emergency department team at Sinai. Many of them come from that violence. They know the anger and the fear, so they can do something that we can’t: they can connect with victims and help them work through it.
You come into the hospital as a black male shot—or as the family or friend of that victim—and you have people all around that you don’t trust. You have police asking questions, medical people doing and saying things you don’t understand. You don’t feel your life matters to any of them.
Responders talk like you, look like you, live in your neighborhood. They know your friends, your family, the corner store you shop at. They may have been in a street organization. They may have lost someone. They may have been shot.
They know what you’re feeling. They know who to talk to, to calm things down. They go to the mother and explain what’s happening. They go to the brother and say, “Hey, we’re not going to do this right now. Concentrate on your brother being in this hospital, not on going out and retaliating.” If a family wants them to stay, they’ll stay in that waiting room all night.
And when you leave the emergency department, they go back out into the neighborhood with you to help you pick up the pieces and move on. They work to change things on the back end, which is the only place it’s ever going to change.”