A look inside the remarkable and critical work of the ECMC Trauma Team


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Chief of Emergency Medicine at ECMC, Dr. Michael Manka takes us inside the new Emergency Department and into one of the resuscitation rooms where an unusually high number of shooting victims lives were saved this year.

“And when they arrive we are waiting for them, both the providers from the emergency team as well as the trauma surgeons,” Dr. Manka said. “There’s gonna be up to 15 people in this room waiting for them when they get here.”

In the first 9 months of this year, the Trauma Unit has treated 160 shooting victims, that’s double the number from the first nine months of last year. Most are shot multiple times, but 87% of them survived and walked out days or weeks later.

“I think the thing that is most common that we see frequently is people in a bad accident or are shot will come to the hospital asking ‘Am I gonna die, or please don’t let me die and it’s a really good feeling to reassure them that they’re gonna be okay and that’s usually the case. Usually if they come in talking to us , we’re able to save them,” Dr. Manka said.

Less than a year ago, ECMC started an in-hospital violence intervention program called BRAVE, where social workers are at the head of the bed right from the minutes a victim first arrives.

B.R.A.V.E. coordinator Paula Kovanic Spiro says, “and often times, they’re asking ‘can you find my mother, can you call many mother’ so we’re calling family members and we’re planning support to the family while waiting to see what the medical is gonna be.”

The counselors involved with the BRAVE program don’t just help the victims of violence while they’re in the hospital. They keep contact with them for months or longer after they recover.

“We’re able to get them signed up for school, we’re able to help find jobs,” Spiro said. “The idea is you get it at an opportune moment a teachable moment when someone I literally at the worst crisis of their month. I’ll see grown men in tears after they’ve been shot because it’s scary, and it’s a privilege for us. We get to work with people when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says, “The people of Western New York have no idea what a treasure we have here locally at ECMC. They literally perform miracles on a daily basis. As a region we are so lucky to have that resource in our community.”

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