A Pittsburgh synagogue, a Boulder supermarket, a high school in Florida, a church in Texas, a concert in Las Vegas, an elementary school in Connecticut. These are the locations of some of America’s deadliest mass shootings in recent history, and they all have something in common: The style of weapon used in each gruesome scene was the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
This week on 60 Minutes,reports what the weapon does to the human body, why it is different from injuries created by a handgun – injuries from an AR-15 style rifle cartridge are potentially fatal.
Because handguns injure and kill more people than AR-15 style rifles, first responders and emergency room medics are used to treating punch injuries.
But most emergency rooms did not have to deal with victims who were shot with an AR-15 style rifle.
“It’s a whole different kind of injury,” 60 Minutes producer Ashley Velie told 60 Minutes Overtime in the video above. “When you are hit by an AR-15 bullet, most people die fairly quickly from a hemorrhage.”
To get a feel for the difference between an AR-15 bullet and a 9-millimeter bullet, the 60 Minutes team spoke with Don Deyo, a former paramedic and Green Beret who has witnessed many casualties up close. on the battlefield. He demonstrated the difference between bullets by firing bullets into a cut of pork similar in size to an average adult human thigh. At first glance, the two bullets looked the same, both leaving an entrance wound that was nothing more than a small hole in the flesh.
But flip the pork and the difference is amazing. The 9-millimeter exit wound was small, without too much damage to the surrounding area. The AR-15’s exit wound left a huge gaping hole and shattered the surrounding bone. These bone fragments, Deyo explained, become projectiles that further damage tissue.
On the show, Pelley chats with Cynthia Bir, professor of research surgery at the University of Southern California. Bir also compared the damage from the two types of bullets in her ballistics lab, where she uses advanced gelatin blocks issued by the FBI to represent human soft tissue.
“There’s going to be a lot more damage to the tissue, both to the bones, to the organs, to anything even near that ball path,” Bir told Pelley. “The bones aren’t just going to break; they’re going to break. The organs aren’t just going to tear or bruise; they’re going to be, parts of them are going to be destroyed.”
Stop the bleeding
After an AR-15 style rifle bullet detonates a large cavity through the soft tissue, blood pressure then pumps that cavity with blood, causing many victims of the AR-15 fire to bleed before that rescuers cannot reach them.
As a result, some doctors are now pushing for ordinary people to learn how to stop this bleeding before first responders arrive. Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first graders and six educators were killed with AR-15 shells, a campaign called “Stop the Bleed” began nationwide. The movement is an effort to train civilians to be a kind of first responder in life-threatening scenarios, such as mass shootings.
In Florida, Broward County Medical Director Dr. Peter Antevy runs Stop the Bleed classes. He teaches basic bleeding control techniques, including applying a tourniquet, dressing a wound with gauze, and maintaining pressure on a wound. He even gave his 12-year-old son a bleeding kit – a package that includes items like tourniquets, gauze, and a chest seal – and taught him how to use it.
“We have to make the general public understand that he is the first line of defense,” says Antevy. “And every city, every community in this country has to deploy these bleeding kits or these active killer kits… And every child has to learn how to do it.”
The “Stop the Bleed” campaign is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons, the Committee on Trauma and the Hartford Consensus and has educated over 1.5 million people worldwide. You can find out more and buy a bleeding control kit at BleedingControl.org
To see how to use a Stop the Bleed kit, click here.
To watch Scott Pelley’s report on the high-speed shells of AR-15 style rifles,
The above video was originally posted on November 4, 2018 and was produced by Ann Silvio and Lisa Orlando. It was edited by Lisa Orlando.