Blood and bullets

Devastating Effects of a High Velocity Bullet

Rebecca Corral
February 26, 2018 - 9:39 am

(Warning: graphic subject matter)

(KCBS Radio) - If someone fired an ordinary hand gun at you, like a 'Saturday Night Special', the bullet would enter your body, creating a path of destruction, maybe an inch on either side. So if you're hit in the liver, for example, and the bleeding is stopped quickly enough. A trauma surgeon is probably able to treat the wound and save your life. 

But, if that bullet comes from an assault weapon like an AR-15 or an AK-47, it's an entirely different path of destruction.

Dr. Andre Campbell, trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital says "Instead of it entering the body and just creating a cone of destruction that are a couple inches around it. What it essentially does is it polarizes and destroys tissue."

"Some people used an example of dropping a watermelon on a concrete and seeing the destruction of watermelon," Dr. Campbell, a professor of surgery at UCSF describes "what happens when a AR-15 assault rifle bullet enters the liver of someone."

At which point, there is no liver to patch up. The organ is destroyed. Multiply that by two, three, five or ten bullets, which a rapid fire weapon can pump out and it's a picture of devastation.

Dr. Campbell says if the bullet enters the the arm, it can destroy the entire blood supply to the arm, its muscles and can also destroy bones. It's like the ripple effect of a speedboat racing through water. Only this is a speeding bullet slamming through someone's spleen, bowel, long liver. The energy blasting the surrounding tissue into pulp.

"All it takes is one bullet that can utterly devastate someone," Dr Campbell says. "If you have a young 17 year old 18 year old person, they have their whole life ahead of them. Next minute they're dead. It's it's really a tragedy."

When you read that 17 lives were lost, with a simple phrase Dr. Campbell wants people to understand what really happens.