Exploring firearm injury in King County using the new Emergency Medical Services Data Dashboard
A newly published data dashboard uses Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data to provide a unique opportunity to learn about recent firearm injuries in our community. Typically, gun violence data on hospitalization or death have long lag times between the incident and data release. In response to community concerns, Public Health has been working to add more timely data to our dashboard. Information from EMS offers monthly updates of firearm injury activity and trends throughout King County. This resource will help us better track rates of EMS-treated incidents involving firearm injuries by geography, age, gender, and severity over time.
Oftentimes, gun violence data highlight fatal firearm injuries. However, non-fatal injuries are also important to consider. Other data sources Public Health monitors show that the second most common manner of non-fatal firearm injury hospitalization in King County is assault, although the manner of injury is missing for many of the firearm injuries treated by EMS because the focus is on providing care rather than investigation. People who experience non-fatal firearm injuries can suffer lifelong health problems and disabilities. A recent study authored by Song et al. found that survivors of firearm injuries experience “worse mental health, substance use disorders, and higher health care spending for survivors as well as increased mental health disorders for their significant other and children”. When looking at gun violence data, we need to include all types of injuries to incorporate the non-lethal impacts of gun violence. This EMS data dashboard provides insight into nonfatal firearm injury in King County that can help us better understand the full picture of gun violence in our communities.