Stand Up SA to begin first gun violence prevention efforts inside Texas hospitals

“We’re just trying to save lives. We’re trying to stop gun violence.”

San Antonio – San Antonio trauma hospitals are teaming up with the community-based program Stand Up SA to step in and intervene when a shooting breaks out. The team of about 20 works in the East and West Side but now a new team of three will break out into local trauma hospitals.

Dennis Ellis, the hospital supervisor, said his team will be working at University Hospital and Brook Army Medical Center, both level 1 trauma hospitals, where the most serious of gun shooting victims are treated.

“We’re just trying to save lives. We’re trying to stop gun violence,” he explained. The program is modeled after other programs used in other major cities, but it’s the first time it’s being used in Texas.

Derek Taylor is the program manager. He says the team has already been doing incredible work in San Antonio for six years. This is the next step for that work.

“My staff will respond to see if we can get it started and get in front of it, in front of the next situation out of retaliation,” Taylor said.

If all goes according to plan, the staff should be in the hospitals by the spring. There’s plans to hire two more hospital violence interrupters by the end of the year.

He says people and families are most vulnerable when they are sitting in a hospital waiting for the outcome of their loved ones. He thinks that maybe this is the time when they can be reached and helped out of the lifestyle.

Mark Muir, Adult Trauma Medical Director at UHS, said the hospital already has several programs geared towards reducing gun violence. They support embracing this next program as they see a rise in gun crime.

“It does take a toll seeing these injuries day after day and night after night in the trauma bay. Just the fact that the numbers continues to increase is frustrating and takes a toll on everyone,” Muir said.

He said in the last two years, intentional shooting injuries patients that are taken to the hospital have doubled. In 2019, it was about 150. In 2021, it was about 300. He said many of those victims have been there for previous shooting injuries.

The UHS, Bexar County, and other community groups have teamed up to offer gun locks for free to anyone in the community who needs them.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

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