Saturday morning around 6am two Baton Rouge police officers were shot. The details of the story are sketchy at this time, but both officers are at a local hospital in stable condition.
The shooter was also shot and according to news reports is in surgery.
This is a real life example of the need for a hospital in north Baton Rouge. Police officers work a dangerous job, their lives are on the line daily. Yet in the area of Baton Rouge with the highest crime, the areas with increased possibilities of an officer being shot – there are no medical facilities with the ability to treat an officer or in this case two officers after a shooting encounter.
This is a problem, and one that should be addressed not in weeks, months, or years ahead, but now. Each and every day an officers life is on the line they are put in an even more dangerous situation with the lack of access to healthcare. According to WAFB, the officers were transported to the hospital by car, which makes perfect sense. Waiting for an ambulance to arrive only causes you to lose critical time in an emergency situation.
You see this is the everyday struggle of residents of north Baton Rouge. This tragic situation with the police officers allows it to be seen in real time.
Even more troubling is the shooter who according to reports was shot and is in surgery. According to a family member who spoke with The Advocate, the shooter struggles with mental illness, which illuminates another issue in Baton Rouge – the lack of a mental health facility. Not having a mental health facility means that thousands of people are jailed when they should be receiving treatment. That is not to say that this situation would have been avoided if the shooter had gotten more mental healthcare, but how do we know without a facility in the city?
Baton Rouge is too large of a city to have the deficits we have in healthcare. Those deficits don’t just affect the black community directly, but all those who live in the parish. You see, these officers being shot gives a window into the daily struggles of residents of north Baton Rouge. Thankfully the officers will survive, but imagine if their wounds were more critical. There is no medical facility located in the area where officers lives are in the most danger. This is a problem, and all those who claim to support law enforcement should be passionate about solving it. It is not enough to say you support those who wear the badge, yet when the time to fight for resources that benefit the entire community like a hospital, people are playing politics.
There will be a vote on Wednesday to approve the zoning of a hospital district in south Baton Rouge, to help connect the services of hospitals in the southern portion of the parish. Make no mistake about it, the Metro Council due to the racial breakdown plans to vote to approve the zoning of the hospital district, because as they see it their districts aren’t really affected by the lack of a hospital – with the exception of Councilman Trae Welch and Scott Wilson whose districts both reside in north Baton Rouge. This is not the time to push forth another project in south Baton Rouge, without addressing the issues in north Baton Rouge.
Some will argue that the hospital district in south Baton Rouge has nothing to do with the lack of services in north Baton Rouge. To those people I say, tell that the police officers that were shot today while doing their job. Advancing healthcare that is too far away to actually be of aid to those who need it most in critical moments before addressing the healthcare crisis in north Baton Rouge isn’t just bad business, it’s inhumane.
North Baton Rouge needs a hospital. This shooting could have gone totally different and a deciding factor in that situation could very well have been the lack of access to an emergency room and a full service hospital with the ability to move a patient directly into surgery after assessing the situation.
The officers didn’t wait on the ambulance to arrive, they rushed the officers by police car to the emergency room. Flashing lights and sirens aren’t at the disposal of the citizens of this city, but it shouldn’t be needed. We should be solving the healthcare crisis in north Baton Rouge and not just talking about the issue week after week. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Metro Council, and others will surely say they support our police officers, but how many of them have put up a single dime to help solve the healthcare crisis in the area of our parish where officers lives are most in danger every day? None.
February 13, 2016 11:30a