DO NO HARM

Doctors Slam Rick Santorum for Suggesting Kids Learn CPR Instead of Protesting

“CPR saves lives for sure, but just not in this situation,” Dr. Joseph Sakran, who was shot in the throat at 17 years old with a .38-caliber bullet, told The Daily Beast.

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Medical professionals on Monday slammed former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) for his claim that school-shooting survivors should just learn CPR instead of protesting for “phony gun laws.”

Santorum, who currently serves as a CNN commentator, knocked the youth-led March for Our Lives protest on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, a day after 800,000 students and families rallied in the Washington, D.C. demonstration against gun violence.

“How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” Santorum said.

While Santorum said he is “proud” of the students for voicing their opinions, he also dismissed their efforts.  

“They took action to ask someone to pass a law,” the ex-presidential candidate said to CNN. “They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community?’”

David Hogg, one of the more prominent student activists and survivors of the Parkland, Florida massacre, responded Monday on CNN, telling Santorum: “At the end of the day, if you take a bullet from an AR-15 to the head, no amount of CPR is going to save you, because you’re dead.”

Physicians and CPR specialists also trashed the ex-senator’s suggestion.

Dr. Joseph Sakran, a six-year trauma surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore told The Daily Beast that Santorum’s comments were a “false” representation of CPR’s effectiveness.

“CPR saves lives for sure, but just not in this situation,” said Sakran, who was shot in the throat at 17 years old with a .38-caliber bullet. “If someone gets shot in your school and they are bleeding to death, the biggest thing you can do is get them to a trauma center as quickly as possible. So, they can stop the bleeding and resuscitate the patient.”

The American Red Cross states that CPR, an acronym for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a life-saving tool during a cardiac or breathing emergency. But medical professionals said that isn’t as useful as in an active-shooter situation, where there are life-threatening bullet wounds.

But Anthony Rose, a CPR instructor of more than 18 years in New York, told The Daily Beast that Santorum’s idea would be a “grossly inappropriate” response in an active-shooter situation.  

“What you need to do is stop the bleeding and put direct pressure, which slows the blood loss,” Rose said. “Once you die from blood loss, it’s like the soul has left the body, there’s no way to put it back in.”

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Scott Caruthers, a 9/11 first responder, who leads Training for Life, a non-profit CPR program, said using CPR during a mass shooting would be “illogical” and “ridiculous.”

“CPR never fixes anything. It buys time,” Caruthers said. “A mass shooter [is] coming down the hallway and you’re going to stop, kneel down next to them, tap and shout to ask them if they’re okay and then spend the next 10 seconds assessing whether or not they’re breathing? All the while the shooter is coming toward you?”

In active-shooter situations, specialists say, it’s often too late to rely on CPR for a victim’s recovery.

“It’s already happening,” Caruthers said, adding: “Everyone has the responsibility to defend their own lives. You can’t wait for someone else to arrive in 18 minutes to do it for you.”