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Doctors Slam Rick Santorum for Suggesting Kids 'Learn CPR' Instead of Marching

Rick Santorum arrives for a meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower December 12, 2016 in New York. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Doctors and surgeons slammed former Republican Rick Santorum after he suggested over the weekend that students protesting for gun control legislation would be better served by taking CPR classes and "trying to deal with" active shooter scenarios.

"How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that," Santorum said on CNN's "State of the Union."


He continued:

They took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn't take action to say, 'How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?'... Those are the kind of things where you can take it internally, and say, 'Here's how I'm going to deal with this. Here's how I'm going to help the situation,' instead of going and protesting and saying, 'Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.'

Santorum's comments came a day after millions of protesters both in the United States and abroad assembled at March for Our Lives events to demand gun control in the wake of the deadly Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And they didn't go over well with medical professionals.

Dr. Heather Sher, a Florida-based radiologist who examined at least one of the Parkland victims, called Santorum "gobsmackingly uninformed."

“CPR is not effective with catastrophic bleeding,” she said on Twitter. “Speechless! Learn CPR! Everyone should for cardiopulmonary arrest. But for gunshot wounds, a) attend stop the bleeding course by trauma surgeons or b) pass #gunreform (helpful hint: option b is the better option.”

Dr. Eugene Gu, a health care columnist for The Hill, also weighed in, calling Santorum's comments "simply unconscionable."

Dr. Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at John Hopkins Medical Center said "it is critical to clear up the false perception" set by Santorum. CPR, he said, is "not effective" on people who are bleeding to death.

Dr. Rebecca Bell, a pediatric specialist, laid out her argument with two "simple" stats.

Dr. Joy Buyske, a surgeon, criticized Santorum, saying that "CPR doesn't work if all the blood is on the ground."

And Jordan B., a doctor at Temple Medical School, also criticized Santorum's understanding of CPR. "When someone has been shot in the chest and you start compressions," this doctor wrote, "the blood may spray out the bullet wounds back at you."

Joining medical professionals in their rebuke of Santorum's statements were politicians and activists.

In a statement, Everytown for Gun Safety program manager Erica Lafferty, whose mother was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting referred to Santorum's words as "an insult" to the memory of those killed by gun violence:

Rick Santorum's words are an insult to the kids of Parkland, my family and to the countless others who have had loved ones taken by gun violence. My mother was killed while protecting her students at Sandy Hook School. For anyone to suggest that the solution to gun violence is for kids to learn CPR is outrageous, and indicative of the NRA's desire to do or say anything except strengthen America's weak gun laws.

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) also weighed in, noting that CPR isn't effective "for victims of multiple AR-15 bullets, which typically impart 3 times the lethal energy upon impact than a 9mm handgun bullet."

Activist David Hogg, a student survivor of the Parkland shooting cautioned Santorum, saying he "might need to learn CPR for the NRA following midterms."

"There is no shortage of misguided statements in today's America," wrote journalist Dan Rather, but Rick Santorum's statements are in a category all their own.

Santorum has not retracted his statements or commented on the criticism.