Greenville, N.C. – June 21, 2021 – Vidant Health, the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Greenville Police Department (GPD) are proud to announce the formation of the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition (PCFSC), a non-partisan, apolitical group with the goal of reducing injuries and death from firearm violence through education and safe storage techniques.
PCFSC will partner with stakeholders representing various sectors in the community, including the VA, GPD, East Carolina University, health care providers, Child Protective Services, Pitt County Health Department, faith-based groups, wildlife and hunting organizations, gun manufacturers and schools to identify solutions and impactful interventions.
“Firearm injuries have increased at an alarming rate in our state and in our region in recent months,” said PCFSC member Dr. Shannon Longshore, who serves as medical director of Injury Prevention and Pediatric Trauma for ECIPP. “We know each injury and each life lost is devastating to our community. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition works together to prevent firearm injuries with proven solutions such as safe handling and storage and by addressing issues we see locally.”
Firearms are among the top five leading causes of injury-related deaths and account for half of all suicides, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Safe storage of firearms decreases the risk of accidental discharge by a child. Additionally, evidence suggests those living in households where firearms are stored and locked have a lower risk of suicide than those where firearms are stored unlocked.
“Increasing the time and distance between someone with suicidal intent and firearms can reduce suicide risk,” said PCFSC member Tiffany Chavis, senior social worker, suicide prevention coordinator, Durham VA Health Care System. “Providing education and resources to keep firearms safely secured, especially during mental health crises, is crucial in reducing the number of suicides. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition demonstrates how well partners can work together for shared purpose, even if the populations differ.”
PCFSC has launched a firearm safety awareness campaign: “Lock It For Love – Firearm Safety is OUR Responsibility” to encourage the safe storage of firearms in order to reduce the number of firearm injuries in the region. GPD recently partnered with Project ChildSafe to get free gun locks, which will be distributed to local firearms owners/families.
“As police officers we often encounter people during some of the worst times of their lives, but our jobs take on an entirely new meaning when a child loses their life, especially to unnecessary gun violence,” said Chief Mark Holtzman of GPD. “The Greenville Police Department is humbled to be a partner in the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition to raise awareness for this very important cause. There is strength in numbers, and the safety and well-being of the members of our community is truly a collaborative effort. Together, we hope to make a difference and save lives.”
Vidant Health is aware scammers are calling community members in an attempt to solicit Medicare or financial information. This is a common practice used by scammers nationally and is not the result of a data breach. If a community member receives a suspicious call from a Vidant number, or from someone who says they are from Medicare, they should hang up. Individuals should communicate directly with their provider regarding their medical equipment and service needs. Vidant encourages community members to be careful when giving financial, medical or personal information over the phone.
“The school nurses have been instrumental in getting their school staff trained and prepared for the use of Stop the Bleed kits,” Erika Greene, pediatric trauma program manager for Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center, said. “We have expanded our outreach to Wayne County Schools while working towards our goal of providing education and placement of Stop the Bleed kits at each public school within the 29-county Vidant Health region.”
One of the most common contributing factors in trauma-related events is preventable blood loss. Approximately 40 percent of trauma-related deaths worldwide can be attributed to bleeding or its consequence. The items in these kits help control the loss of blood, leading to positive outcomes for those who sustain injuries.
The Stop the Bleed Kits are funded by Children’s Miracle Network along with training in the use of a combat tourniquet provided by Maynard Children’s Hospital. They were distributed to Wayne County Schools with education to ensure schools are prepared in the event of a trauma incident.
The Pediatric Trauma Department of Maynard Children’s Hospital distributed 66 kits to cover the 33 public schools in Wayne County with the assistance of the VMC Trauma Outreach Coordinator.
“Vidant Health provided an awesome comprehensive Stop the Bleed training for the school nurses of Wayne County Public Schools,” said Kim Kennedy, manager of School Health Services for Wayne County Schools. “Thanks to Stop the Bleed and The Children’s Miracle Network, all WCPS campuses will be equipped with tourniquet kits that can be utilized in the event someone suffers severe bleeding. We thank Vidant Health and The Children’s Miracle Network for sponsoring this vitally important project.”
Vidant encourages all community members age 15 and older to complete the CHNA survey and provide meaningful feedback on how Vidant can continue to improve health and well-being in eastern North Carolina. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and all responses are confidential. Your feedback helps ensure health care needs are met in the 29 counties Vidant serves. The survey is open through June 18.
The full CHNA process involves collection and analysis of a large range of data, including demographic, socioeconomic and health statistics, and most importantly, feedback from community members. The completed CHNA analysis and results serve as the basis for prioritizing methods to meet the community’s health needs in order to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.