New interrupter program aims to curb ER violence

New interrupter program aims to curb ER violence

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Nothing says trauma quite like an emergency medical service unit speeding to Metro Health Medical Center with a police car right behind it. That was the scene captured by a Cleveland 19 News camera Friday.

Deb Allen is the Program Manager for Northern Ohio Trauma Systems. It's a new program to help families and victims curb the incidence of repeated or retaliatory violence.

"We're really good at taking care of patients. If they've been shot, stabbed or whatever their injury is, we fix them up and put them back into the community," Allen said.

Cleveland 19 News reporter Harry Boomer, a nearly 27 year veteran of covering Greater Cleveland, has covered many stories outside of emergency rooms where someone has been hospitalized. He says the family members show up confused and angry and wanting to reach out and retaliate. The violence interrupter's job is to make sure it doesn't go beyond that point.

Andrea Martemus-Peters of the trauma systems program has been trained to intervene in an effort to stop more violence from occurring. She talks with victims, their families and even their friends. She cautions them to think before they act.

"You're going to get caught up in problems with the law. You could end up being here as a patient and so that cycle continues," Martemus-Peters said. "The family is constantly in turmoil, constantly mourning. The results of a retaliation act could even lead to death."

An eye for an eye leaves other victims, sometimes innocent children in its wake. To help quell any further escalation of the situation a new full-time violence interrupter is now being hired.

"You'll hear the word street cred out there," said Martemus-Peters. "That means that person knows the life. They understand the feelings. They know what's going on. They have their ears to the ground."

Peters says the violence interrupter will be an impartial party.

"They are not trying to get any information to give to the police. They are not there to talk about any type of medical care the patients may be receiving," she said. "They're just there to offer support, comfort and understanding."

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