RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) introduced a new data dashboard on firearm injuries around the Commonwealth from 2016 to 2022.

According to the VDH, the dashboard shows the number of emergency room visits because of injuries caused by firearms. It is organized by year, health district, age group, gender, race, and ethnicity throughout Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the VDH with the Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms (FASTER) funding, which lasts for three years. Virginia has been awarded this out of 10 recipients, according to the VDH.

The VDH said the objective of this is to “improve public health surveillance of firearm injuries using near-real time ED data.”

Some of the dashboard’s findings are:

  • The number of emergency department visits for firearm injuries increased 72% from 2018 to 2021.
  • From January 2016 through May 2022, most firearm injury victims were male.
  • Among different racial groups, most emergency room visits because of firearm injuries were among Black patients.
  • Younger adults between ages 18 and 24 comprised nearly one-third of firearm injury ED visits in 2021.

To put together this dashboard, the VDH says it worked with hospitals, education partners, law enforcement, state agencies and community groups. Hospitals and independent EDs report data to the department.

“The misuse and mishandling of firearms constitute a significant cause of injury in Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Colin M. Greene. “This data set, obtained from emergency department records, will assist in the assessment of proximate causes of firearm-related injury, with an eye toward prevention of future injuries.”

The VDH said they hope to develop the data dashboard to include hospitalizations and deaths resulting from firearms.