US Indymedia Global Indymedia Publish About us
Printed from Boston IMC : http://boston.indymedia.org/
Boston.Indymedia
IVAW Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier
Testimonies
Brad Presente

Other Local News

Spare Change News
Open Media Boston
Somerville Voices
Cradle of Liberty
The Sword and Shield

Local Radio Shows

WMBR 88.1 FM
What's Left
WEDS at 8:00 pm
Local Edition
FRI (alt) at 5:30 pm

WMFO 91.5 FM
Socialist Alternative
SUN 11:00 am

WZBC 90.3 FM
Sounds of Dissent
SAT at 11:00 am
Truth and Justice Radio
SUN at 6:00 am

[topics]
biotech

[regions]
united states

[projects]
video
satellite tv
radio
print

[process]
volunteer
tech
process & imc docs
mailing lists
fbi/legal updates

west asia
palestine
israel
beirut

united states
worcester
western mass
vermont
urbana-champaign
tennessee
tampa bay
seattle
sarasota
santa cruz, ca
santa barbara
san francisco bay area
san francisco
san diego
saint louis
rogue valley
rochester
richmond
portland
pittsburgh
philadelphia
oklahoma
nyc
north texas
north carolina
new orleans
new mexico
new jersey
new hampshire
minneapolis/st. paul
milwaukee
michigan
miami
maine
madison
la
kansas city
hudson mohawk
houston
hawaii
dc
columbus
colorado
cleveland
chicago
charlottesville
buffalo
boston
binghamton
big muddy
baltimore
austin indymedia
austin
atlanta
asheville
arkansas
arizona

south asia
mumbai
india

oceania
sydney
perth
melbourne
manila
jakarta
darwin
brisbane
aotearoa

latin america
venezuela
valparaiso
uruguay
tijuana
santiago
rosario
qollasuyu
puerto rico
peru
mexico
ecuador
colombia
cmi sucre
cmi brasil
chile sur
chile
chiapas
bolivia
argentina

europe
valencia
united kingdom
ukraine
toulouse
toscana
torun
switzerland
sverige
scotland
sardegna
russia
romania
roma
portugal
poland
piemonte
patras
paris/le-de-france
oost-vlaanderen
nottingham
norway
northern england
nice
netherlands
napoli
nantes
marseille
malta
madrid
london
lombardia
linksunten
lille
liguria
liege
la plana
italy
istanbul
ireland
hungary
grenoble
germany
galiza
euskal herria
estrecho / madiaq
emilia-romagna
cyprus
croatia
calabria
bulgaria
brussels
bristol
belgrade
belgium
belarus
barcelona
austria
athens
armenia
antwerpen
andorra
alacant
abruzzo

east asia
saint-petersburg
qc
korea
japan
burma

canada
windsor
victoria
vancouver
thunder bay
quebec
ottawa
ontario
montreal
maritimes
london, ontario

africa
south africa
nigeria
kenya
canarias
ambazonia

www.indymedia.org

-->
Create account Log in
Comment on this article | Email this article | Printer-friendly version
News ::
Street Medicine: Volunteers for Pepepr Spraying? (english)
16 Aug 2003
Street Medicine and action medics are more in need now than ever. This article reviews street medicine organizations and their protest advice for us all.
Street Medicine: Volunteers for Pepper Spraying?
by Kirsten Anderberg
*****************************************************

In solidarity with the upcoming WTO protests in Cancun, Mexico, this September, groups are mobilizing worldwide with calls to action. This is a fitting time to talk about one of the legacies the WTO protests in Seattle, Wa. left behind - Street Medicine Organizations. First Aid is about what to do *first* in a medical emergency. Street First Aid incorporates basic first aid, but then expands it to include chemical weaponry aftercare and treatments for likely injuries at mass demonstrations. Most of the dozen or so "Action Medics" and street medicine organizations now in existance on the Web were self-admittedly inspired by the WTO police riots in Seattle. With the increasing frequency of political discontent and public protest, and the escalation of violent weaponry and the militarization of police forces in America, street first aid is a necessary field of study for concerned health care workers, as well as average citizenry (after all it is our children they are using these weapons on, not just us).

Street medicine information is so sorely needed that the Black Cross Collective (www.blackcrosscollective.org) in Portland, Oregon, decided to conduct its own research. Brave Portland activists actually volunteered to be pepper sprayed onto their skin and into their eyes in the name of science. Black Cross said during the experiment, some people panicked when sprayed, thus the environment was tense. They have published a list of things they found to relieve the painful reactions to police weaponry, as well as lists of what did not work (eggs, toothpaste,...) and things they have not yet tried (such as a bagel). Black Cross offers 8 hour "Affinity Group Medic Workshops" in Portland, yet also travels to educate, such as when they came to Seattle for workshops in May, prior to the LEIU protests. Their website had the most concise pepper spray and tear gas information of all the sites I visited.

Each street medicine website I visited had a different uniquity. For instance, the BALM Squad (www.bostoncoop.net/balm), the Boston Area Liberation Medic Squad, has a downloadable Spanish language phrase book for first aid trained activists, as well as information on hot and cold weather protests, and a list of upcoming global protests. The Bay Area Radical Health Collective (www.black-rose.com/radicalhealth.html) has an article on aftercare for projectile injuries, such as rubber bullets out of an AR-15, such as Seattle Police use. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (www.palestinercs.org) has an emergency guide with instruction for conflict situations. Handcuff injuries are addressed at www.action-medical.net, which was probably the most thorough site on street medicine I saw. They offer a 13 page detailed "Training Supplement" to download for trainings, and a supplies list that includes medical equipment and supplies, chemical protective gear, chemical weapons treatment supplies, and other things not on ordinary first aid lists.

Most of these websites contain similar basic street treatments and remedies. Such as bandannas soaked in vinegar, kept in ziplock baggies until needed, partially filter out tear gases. (One site even recommended wearing a paper filter under the bandanna due to the vinegar fumes). Lemon juice, or even water, works better than just dry fabric, they say.
A combination of one part water and one part liquid antacid for skin and eyes to relieve burning seemed consensus. Squirt bottles were recommended to flush out eyes with water, and contact lenses trap toxins under them, thus sites warned to remove them before protests. One site suggested ordering prescription swimming goggles for activism. These sites all recommended covering as much of your body as possible at protests, suggesting activists wear long sleeves, long pants, closed-toe shoes, and baseball hats, as well as sunscreen. All sites recommended bringing LOTS of water.

An interesting side issue emerging in street medicine is an ethical dilemma. Traditionally, first aid medics at an event treat *anyone* in need. At mass demonstrations and when social unrest is involved, this may include injured police officers and right wing counter-protesters. Many people form small affinity groups for actions, with a trained activist medic for their group's needs first and foremost. Non-affinity group action medics need to come to a moral decision on who to treat *before* the event. It makes activists look good to treat the enemy with kindness, yet if that means they just turn around and hurt more activists then, this becomes a problem. In an article by Brian Domnick, entitiled "The Principles of Action Medical Patient Care," he outlines 7 elements he finds important: 1) Do No Harm, 2) Treat Anyone in Need, 3) Treat Patients as Comrades, 4) Triage, 5) Documentation, Debriefing, and Analysis, 6) Honest Evaluation of Medics, 7) Constant Strive to Improve Skills. He stresses that action-medics are *not* politically neutral, and are working alongside the patients in struggle, as a movement group.

Street medicine organizations and action medics are an interesting result of the growing chasm between police and our public emergency responce teams, and the average youthful rebel or peaceful anti-war protester today. This field is in its infancy. It was created to empower, not frighten, protesters. Hiding our heads in the sand means we get our asses kicked. This new defense field of street medicine is much needed and will only develop and expand in time.

Copyright Kirsten Anderberg 2003

See also:
www.angelfire.com/la3/kirstenanderberg
Add a quick comment
Title
Your name Your email

Comment

Text Format
Anti-spam Enter the following number into the box:
To add more detailed comments, or to upload files, see the full comment form.