First Responders to Gun Shot Wounds

Oakland Pastors on the front lines

By David Scott Who gets called when someone gets shot? Who is first on the scene with the medical team to minister and console gunshot victims and their families? Ministers are called to provide pastoral duties in emergencies alongside the triage medical teams and law enforcement officers. In recognition of the role pastors play in dealing with victims of crime, Mayor Jean Quan visited the Pastors of Oakland Friday, June 24, and told them “It will take Hope not Cops to turn our City around and it’s time to get a buzz of hope throughout Oakland”.  I think starting with the clergy for a buzz will help turn our City around. Donald Miller and the Pastors of Oakland know hope and they pray daily for help in turning Oakland away from violence. Donald Miller is the Director of Pastoral Services at the Alameda County Medical Center who started as a volunteer Chaplain at Highland Hospital in 1989. As I began to pray for more spiritual support from the Pastors, Priests, Imams, Rabbis, Chaplains and other Spiritual Ministers of Alameda County to get involved, the Eternal One sent the Pastors of Oakland with a team called The First Responders to GSW’s to meet with me. The First Responders to Gun Shot Wounds (GSW) of The Pastors of Oakland was the vision of Pastor Gerald Agee. Their Chairperson is Pastor Donald Scurry. Other members include Dr. Barbara Bowman, Pastor Betty E. Clark, Pastor Phyllis Scott, Reverend Ronnie Bridgett, Reverend Gene Elam, Dr. Jasper Lowery, Pastor Jimmie Lee Oliver and. Pastor Cornell Wheeler agreed to become volunteer Chaplains at Highland. In 1996 he was appointed the first African American Chaplain staff member until 2003 when he moved to the  Southeast Louisiana Hospital, in Mandeville, Louisiana, again, serving as the first  African American Clinical Chaplain for the State of Louisiana. Miller returned to Highland in April this year as Director. “On April 14, my first day, I started my old routine of visiting each floor before going to the emergency room where the gunshot victims are first treated.  And, almost every other day I heard the call for ‘Trauma Team to ER stat!’”, said Miller. His world revolves around the terms ‘GSW’ (Gun Shot Wound), ‘ETA’ (Estimate Time of Arrival) and the ‘EMS’ (Emergency Medical Services) van. In the Emergency Entrance, he often finds up to thirty friends and family members, in vigil, for a gunshot victim. Even though Highland is considered one of the nation’s best trauma centers, it is also a busy room for pastoral care. Miller says more help is needed to alleviate the confusion and hurt surrounding victims. For information call (510) 437-4431.
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