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First Fridays in downtown Oakland is a monthly event that fills the streets with food and music and dance, brilliant colors, and enticing smells. Full of life. This past Friday, two groups of teenagers reportedly began an argument in the middle of the event. Shortly, at least one person pulled out a gun and shot dead an 18-year-old boy in the middle of the street fair. His name was Kiante Campbell. Three other people were also shot and wounded: a teenaged friend of Kiante’s, and two young women in their twenties who were not involved in the argument and were simply out to enjoy the art and music. Hit by stray bullets, they were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But the truth is with so many guns in our city and our country, any place could be the wrong place, any time could be the wrong time. The high prevalence of guns takes heated moments of dispute and turns them into lifetimes of irreversible loss and death.
As we all know 20 children and 6 adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th 2012. This horrific tragedy provoked a wide array of responses from leaders and citizens across the world. It prompted murmurs of a real response and dialogue about gun control and mental illness in our country by our elected leaders. Washington Post Associate Editor and presidential biographer David Maraniss called President Obama’s vigil to the victims his “Gettysburg Address”. His comparison is apt – the President’s speech was poetic, mournful, somber, and evoked the gravity and humanity of an evil day.
Like most readers of this blog, I received a lot of calls and emails about Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker piece on high-cost patients (find it here). The geospatial element, as well on the incorporation of the effects social pressures on ED use, were direct hits onto some of what Jahan Fahimi and I are working on with the Barometer Project, our effort to measure community stress and well-being from the ED. It was great to see these issues laid out so clearly in a very public forum.
Hard to believe that I never posted after our amazing panel in Phoenix. I was joined by several members of the Levitt Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee for a didactic session at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s annual meeting. It was a bold move on the Program Committee’s part to select our unorthodox proposal. I think we did not disappoint them.
We have a new Fellow, and a fine fellow he is indeed. The Levitt Center Board agreed to provide seed support for the first year of the first-ever Fellow in Social Emergency Medicine, Dr. Jahan Fahimi. Prior to his position as resident and then Chief Resident in our department, Jahan obtained a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health and an MD from New York University, where he was elected into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. Jahan is a Bay Area native, and a graduate of UCSD, summa cum laude.
Tomorrow is a debut of sorts for the intellectual framework we have been calling Social Emergency Medicine. We will be presenting a didactic section at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting, moderated by me with perspectives and data presented by a few members of the Levitt Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
The most stimulating emergency medicine specialty meeting of the year, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, was greeted this year by many of us with less than the usual enthusiasm. The same mind-expanding content, the same dear and deep people, but this year in Phoenix. OK, it's hot. OK, it's paved. We can deal with that. But the passage of the recent immigration law had many of us tied in knots.