You Can Save A Life: Active Shooter Training at UCSB

By Erica Deforge-Zarza via UC Santa Barbara Humanities and Fine Arts

Mass shootings have become our new reality, says Dr. Scott Sherr, an emergency-room physician who worked the night of the October 2018 Las Vegas music festival shooting that took 59 lives and injured over 500.

“It’s not if—it is when,” Dr. Sherr told an audience at UC Santa Barbara earlier this month during an active shooter-preparedness training event. Dr. Scott Sherr, an emergency room physician at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, spoke at the  Active Shooter Preparedness Training, sponsored by the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life.

The training was hosted by the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life. It also featured Dr. Jason Prystowsky, an emergency medicine specialist at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, who was working the day of the Isla Vista Shooting that took the lives of six people in May of 2014.

The only way to prepare for a mass shooting is to be able to use a tourniquet, said Dr. Sherr. Stop the Bleed kits empower the general public to save lives during a mass shooting event by carrying basic supplies needed to make a tourniquet.

The two doctors did their medical residency together in Atlanta during the early 2000s, and since then both have been head physicians during an active shooting event. Almost every physician who attended residency with them has been on duty during a mass shooting event, Dr. Sherr said.

Five years ago, terror struck when a gunman opened fire in the college-town next to campus, Isla Vista. Few current students have first-hand memory of the shooting but UCSB staff and Isla Vista shop owners still feel the weight of the event, said Dr. Prystowsky.

Dr. Prystowsky and his team at Cottage Hospital were able to save all 11 of the injured victims that arrived at the hospital but, he told the audience, he is uncertain whether he could say the same if there had been any more victims.

Dr. Sherr recounted the challenges that emergency medical responders faced during the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting and how he and his team prepare for future mass-casualty events and the reality of shootings in America.

The first difficulty that responders faced was distracting calls. Dispatchers were receiving reports of active shooters all over the Las Vegas Strip, as people took out their own personal weapons in defense and others called in to report them as the shooter.

Also, concert goers were running into casinos, restaurants and hotels covered in blood. Nobody had any idea of what was going on, he said. These distractions led emergency personnel to believe there were active shooters in at least five other spots on the strip, which was not the case.

Another obstacle emergency personnel faced the night of the Las Vegas shooting was victim movement. The crime scene started at 17 acres and grew to over three miles. Music festival attendees dispersed in countless directions making it difficult for emergency personnel to locate and pick up the injured. First responders are trained to divide up victims among numerous hospitals in the area, but 70 percent of the victims took themselves to the hospital. Google maps and Siri navigated people to the closest hospital, but the nearest hospital wasn’t a trauma center and was not prepared for the mass influx of victims.

No hospital could properly train for such a high influx of patients all at once, said Dr. Sherr. The only way to save the highest percentage of victims was to enforce crisis standards of care. Pediatric surgeons performed surgery on adults and, X-ray results were written on patients with a Sharpie. Supplies were reused, doctors carried medicine in their pockets, and two patients were placed on the same breathing machine. These sacrifices were essential in saving the lives of hundreds of people. Of the roughly 500 injured that made it to the hospital only 14 did not make it, said Dr. Sherr.


He strongly believes his team was only able to save so many people because of good timing. “If it was 2 o’clock in the morning and during flu season it would have been a very different scenario.”

Hundreds of victims arrived at the hospital with tourniquets already on to stop the bleeding. Dr.Sherr considers this a big contributor to saving so many lives and encourages everyone to carry a ‘Stop the Bleed’ kit. The small kit includes the basics for making a tourniquet and could save thousands of lives in the future. Both Dr. Sherr and Dr. Prystowsky don’t see any clear solution on how to prevent mass shootings. But, they are confident that teaching the public to use a tourniquet could save many lives.

Erica Deforge-Zarza is a fourth year Psychology major at UC Santa Barbara. She reported on this event for her class Journalism for Web and Social Media.

Kinari Webb: Saving Rainforests Via Affordable Healthcare

By Donna Mo via UC Santa Barbara Humanities and Fine Arts

Click on the story below to read Humanities and Fine Arts reporter Donna Mo’s coverage of nonprofit Health in Harmony founder Kinari Webb’s talk on the importance of stopping deforestation, hosted by the Walter H. Capp Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life.


Donna Mo is a fourth year Communication major and Theater minor. She is a Web and Social Media intern with the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. 

A Trump Reality Check From Guest Speaker Harold Koh

By Donna Mo via UC Santa Barbara Humanities and Fine Arts

President Trump has so far failed in his attempt to end the nuclear threat from North Korea, according to Yale legal scholar Harold Koh, who says Trump originally threatened Pyongyang only to later revert to a diplomatic approach.

“He needs to do his homework and develop a strategy that’s going to work,” Koh told a UC Santa Barbara audience last week in the first of two lectures on Trump’s foreign policy, sponsored by the Walter H. Capps Center.

A former legal adviser to the Dept. of State, Koh also spoke on the contradictions between Trump’s foreign policy and international law in his evening lecture. He focused on issues such as immigration reform, human rights and climate change.

His main message was clear: Donald Trump is not winning against a global legal system that developed during the 20th century. “He doesn’t own the law,” Koh said.  

There is a counter-strategy at work similar to boxer Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” technique, Koh said, where Ali allowed his opponents to tire themselves out. As Trump continues to create policies that threaten to violate international law, those working outside the federal government can oppose these policies on legal grounds. “Let Trump ‘punch himself out’ by expending energy and capital on various initiatives that do not advance party chance for re-election,” Koh said.

Critics worry that Trump’s policy initiatives will have lasting negative repercussions, but Koh outlined how Trump has been largely unsuccessful in his attempts to enact these policies.

One of his most controversial policies, the so-called ‘travel ban,’ which blocked citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, violates the First Amendment religion clause. The ban came under criticism by media outlets, members of Congress, states and U.S. allies. It was legally challenged by many, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, who filed a six-page joint declaration against the ban. Soon, continued pressure and resistance forced Trump to withdraw the original travel ban and then second and third versions of the ban.

“But the travel ban is not over,” Koh said. It was upheld in the Supreme Court. Still, Koh believes that Democrats, who now hold majority in the House, will start to create legislation to undo it.

Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, which separates children from their parents at the border, was similarly overruled by two judges. One ruled that children and families cannot be apart for more than 20 days. “As a result, Trump has pretty much reverted back to the policy of catch and release,” Koh said, continuing to explain Trump’s failed policies.  

In June 2017, Trump announced the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, a treaty meant to lower greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The decision came under much criticism, but Koh argues that Trump’s decision has little meaningful legal impact.  Under the terms of the Paris agreement, Trump can’t withdraw from it until November 4, 2020, the day after the next U.S. presidential election. The legal scholar’s message about that was similar to what he said about other policies. “Trump doesn’t own climate change,” said Koh. 

Koh reassured his UC Santa Barbara audience that Trump’s policies will not last if citizens continue to fight for laws they wish to uphold. “POTUS is not the only one player in the process. We all own it.” 

Donna Mo is a fourth year Communication major and Theater minor. She is a Web and Social Media intern with the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. 

In tough economy, Capps Center-NSC Community Internship Program more important than ever

When the UCSB Capps Center and the Nonprofit Support Center launched their joint student internship program in 2008, Santa Barbara nonprofits were beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn. Two years on, the situation has worsened for many nonprofits, as fundraising has suffered and the need for their services has increased. Students, too, have been affected by higher fees, and many are taking on extra jobs to pay their way. The Capps/NSC internships, which are paid, are helping a select group of UCSB students and Santa Barbara nonprofits to bridge these gaps.

Benefactor Sara Miller McCune, bottom right, with the 2010-11 class of interns, now part of the Sara Miller McCune Internship and Public Service Program.

Under the program, which covers a full academic year, the Capps Center and the NSC place 10 juniors and seniors with Santa Barbra non-profits selected specifically to match their interests and experience. The interns work for 10 hours per week during the winter and spring quarters, and earn both a small stipend and course credit in an upper-level seminar held during the fall quarter. The Capps/NSC students learn about different aspects of managing non-profit organizations, working under the tutelage of mentors who plan their assignments and monitor their work. The mentors, who are senior staff members at their respective non-profits, receive training in mentoring from the NSC. The non-profits thus benefit from the work of skilled interns who not only believe in their mission, but also are able to undertake challenging assignments because of their skill levels and the bloc of time they are able to commit to their internships.

Just beginning its third year and bolstered by a recent endowment, what is now part of the Sara Miller McCune Internship and Public Service Program is already very competitive and the applicants are highly qualified, says Wade Clark Roof, director of the Capps Center and professor of religious studies. “This campus has a strong service ethos, and we found that these students already have a lot of experience with non-profits, and thus bring a lot of sophistication to the program.”

In September, the Capps Center announced a $500,000 donation from Sara Miller McCune to establish an endowment for the center’s internship programs. In addition to the NSC Community Internship Program, the Capps Center also sponsors interns taking part in the UCDC and UC Sacramento Programs. “The Capps internships provide intelligent students with meaningful work experience in carefully selected nonprofits in our own community, as well as the alternative of an eye-opening position in either Washington, D.C., or Sacramento,” said McCune in a UCSB news release.

Judy Hawkins, Consulting Manager of the NSC, adds, “the feedback from the non-profits has been overwhelmingly positive. In the current economic context of decreased funding, budgetary reductions, and increased demand for services, the interns have made a vital contribution to the these organizations and the non-profit sector. The mentors indicate that the interns are working on substantive projects that in better economic times might have been done by staff.”

To the greatest extent possible, the interns are placed with non-profits that match their interests and experience, and also help them to develop new skills and to network The non-profits selected this year include local institutions like Casa Esperanza Homeless Center, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Just Communities, and the Legal Aid Foundation. The program does not focus only on social justice issues, however, with SEE International and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation adding an international component, and both the YMCA and the Wilderness Youth Project focusing on youth. In future, the program hopes to include arts-related groups as well, says Roof, to reflect the wide variety of non-profit groups in Santa Barbara and broaden the range of options for potential interns.

Anna Giang, a senior majoring in sociology, was an intern during her junior year. Because she had volunteered extensively with youth and recreation groups, Anna asked for a placement that would allow her to learn about the management of a non-profit. She was placed in the office of Serena Kelsch, Financial Development Director of the Channel Islands YMCA, where she has worked on grant writing, fund raising, and campaign development. Maggie Hott, a global studies major who graduated in June 2010, previously had interned in the Scottish Parliament, studied in Spain, and raised funds for an orphanage in Malawi. Her mentor at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Rick Wyman, assigned her to manage a video contest and to assemble a report that will be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly. “This internship has been the best thing that I have ever done at UCSB, and have made the most incredible connections from it,” said Maggie in a email.

2009-10 intern Elizabeth Watson (left) with Niki Davidson, her mentor at the Legal Aid Foundation.
(Photo by Rod Rolle)

Fund raising is central to the work of every non-profit, especially in this difficult economic climate. Elizabeth Watson, a history and philosophy major who is now attending Georgetown Law School on scholarship, was assigned to the Legal Aid Foundation, where she helped to organize several high-profile fundraising events. Her mentor, development director Niki Davidson, said that Elizabeth saw how major events are organized from start-up through completion. Because the internship was also structured to expose Elizabeth to the law, she shadowed different attorneys, met judges and members of the legal community, and spent time at the Legal Resources Clinic. The stipend was critical for Elizabeth, who said, “I can’t stress enough how valuable this kind of program is for someone like me who … needs to work two jobs to pay for school. It is only because this internship is in Santa Barbara and paid (so it could function as my second job) that I could do it. It is really a unique opportunity.”

Emily Ludden, who graduated in June 2010, with local children at the Wilderness Youth Project.
(Photo by Rod Rolle)

At the Wilderness Youth Project, Emily Ludden, a political science major, helped organize the 10th anniversary celebration and also developed a blog and worked with the “Chickadees” preschool-age group exploring the wild places behind Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta. “Working with the kids is magic, “ says Emily. “They have easily taught me just as much, probably more, than I have been able to show them.” Since graduating in June, Emily has been working as a teacher at a nursery school in Goleta, CA. “The school is focused on outdoor education, and my experience with the Wilderness Youth Project no doubt was the key to me getting a job there,” she says. Emily, who plans to apply to a graduate program in public policy next year, advises the new cohort of interns that “the internship is a privilege that will open up doors in the future. It has for me.”

In 2009-10, SEE International was one of several non-profits taking part in the program for the second time, and the staff there were enthusiastic about the substantive work done by the interns. Peter Solar, the International Clinic Coordinator, mentored Stephanie Welty, a political science major who wants to pursue graduate study in international public health. Stephanie’s work was very hands on, as she processed affiliate applications, prepared pre-clinic documents, reviewed surgical logs, finalized program reports for audit, and explored possibilities for new expedition sites. Stephanie says that as a result of her experience, “international health has become such a part of my life that I’m applying to nursing graduate programs for fall 2011. I’m interested in community and public health nursing and hopefully international nursing.”

Many of the mentors stressed the benefits they gained personally from the experience. Erika Lindemann, Assistant Director of the Wilderness Youth Project, said, “Emily taught me a good deal about how to be a better mentor.” Niki Davidson agreed, adding that Legal Aid has a lot of volunteer interns, but this was the first time they had a structured learning program, which made her think more carefully about her responsibilities as a mentor.

The new class of interns is enthusiastic about the program.Justin Galle, a third-year political science major, says, “the main thing that attracted me to the program is the underlying commitment to service that the Capps Center emphasizes.” As the program enters its third year, both the Capps Center and the NSC are more certain than ever about its value to Santa Barbara’s non-profit community, to the student interns themselves, and to the important relationship between UCSB and the wider Santa Barbara community.

The Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life aims to advance conversation on major public issues, ethics and values in a non-partisan, non-sectarian manner, and hence to contribute to a more informed and engaged citizenry. In addition to the Capps Center/NSC internships, the Center also sponsors internships in Sacramento, CA and Washington, DC.