MEDICAL TEAMS' Advice for Protesters
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
The A16 Medical Team's Goals, Strategy & General Advice for Protesters
(from the A16 Medical Collective)
More intensive treatment can be provided in the vicinity of the protests.
Outside the protest zone, skilled health practitioners who can provide further assistance will care for people who need more intensive treatment than what is available in the field, or refer people to other health care -- i.e. hospital, adjunct therapy, etc..
YOU NEED TO KNOW:
If you are well prepared mentally and have essential supplies and knowledge, you will probably not need our medical assistance. Fear & confusion are the State's major weapon. Confidence, determination, preparation and awareness of your strength is your best weapon.
If you are going to be associated with the civil disobedience /direct-action to blockade the World Bank and IMF, the A16 Medical Team wants you and your affinity groups to learn simple preparations, and bring along essential supplies. This will help you avoid the worst effects of the POSSIBLE use of police violence from tear gas, pepper spray and plastic bullets. They may use different tactics and weapons. Our advice is designed to help you remain in action for global justice, so be sure to read it and pass it around.
We will supply and train as many medics as possible. But you, the regular protesters are the primary health care providers.
You need to know about essential & optional supplies, clothes & gear to bring to the protest, and basic knowledge, prevention and treatment of effects from tear gas, pepper spray, plastic bullets and common injuries.
Each affinity group (AG) is asked to designate someone as their Medical Monitor. The Medical Monitor will be responsible for:
1- making sure that the AG has basic prevention/treatment supplies,
2- knowing basic prevention & first aid,
3- knowing how to access the A16 medical system,
4- making sure their comrades are treated and followed-up
5- documenting signs, symptoms and evaluation of treatment
Medical Monitors will benefit by attending an A16 Medical Team Street Medics ' training prior to the action.
USE YOUR HEAD:
* PLAN AHEAD: For essential needs, care & supplies. Know what to expect. Know how to get assistance. How to re-contact your buddies if separated.
* ATTITUDE: You are powerful. You can easily withstand most of what the police throw at you, and you are a warrior for justice. Remember, pain is only temporary, and we are extremely strong.
* THE #1 WEAPON OF THE POLICE IS FEAR. Once you control that, tear gas, pepper spray, plastic bullets and other police tactics are easily manageable.
*COMMON SENSE: Keep your wits, assess what is going down and what needs to be done. BE CALM & FOCUSED when things get most intense. React to danger or warning signs sooner - not later. Watch for signs of physical and mental problems in yourself and others. Cool down others who exhibit panic behavior.
*BEWARE OF RUMORS: They are usually false, and foster fear. Deal with the known truth.
*DOCUMENT police actions, brutality & injuries.
*ANGER Intense anger is quite common with pepper spray, and can be useful if you are prepared and able to focus it. Maybe you can use your anger to motivate you to recover faster and get back in the action again. Maybe it will provide you with energy to get out to a safe space.
INFORMATION FOR THOSE RISKING ARREST with HEALTH CONDITIONS:
* If you have any health condition that might pose serious health problems if your medication is interrupted (such as: retroviruses, psychiatric disorders, diabetes, hypertension), you should be aware that you may not have access to proper medication while you are in jail. A letter from a doctor may help. Three copies of the letter are needed, one for the legal team, one for the medical team (these will be kept completely confidential) and one for you.
* It should include the following information: your name, diagnosis, that you must have access at all times to your medication, a list of all meds, that you must be allowed to keep meds on your person so that they can be properly administered, and that no substitutions are acceptable.
* Since your name must be on the document, you may want to hide it on your body as a sort of insurance policy--perhaps you won't need it and then could eat it and utilize solidarity tactics. We believe that revealing your name and cooperating with the jailers to ensure your health is more beneficial to all than having to deal with a serious medical problem. Better to cite out than pass out.
* Please make sure that your affinity group and the legal team is aware of your needs so they can help care and advocate for you.
* Carrying essential medications in their original prescription bottles with your name and the drug, dosage, etc. may help you get access to them in jail.
WHO SHOULD AVOID RISK OF TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY:
* Those with asthma, respiratory problems or infections, pregnant women, women attempting to get pregnant, anyone ill or with a poor immune system, seizure disorders, eye infections, contact lens wearers, & children.
* CONTACT LENSES trap the irritating gases and chemical compounds underneath them and may increase the amount of damage and irritation. GET PRESCRIPTION GLASSES NOW & WARN OTHERS NOT TO WEAR CONTACT LENSES.
* Menstrual Periods/Pregnancy : A significant number of Seattle women gassed experienced immediate onset of menstruation outside their normal cycles.
Some reported menstrual irregularities lasting for months. At least one spontaneous abortion - or miscarriage - has been reported.
* Reaction to chemical exposure will be greater with the presence of some skin conditions such as acne or severe eczema.
* Tear gas and pepper spray contain oily solvents that will slowly dissolve rubber and plastic, so don't buy really expensive gear. This means that your goggles will only provide temporary protection. Also remember that the straps of your gear will absorb the chemicals and eventually begin to irritate the skin beneath.
PEPPER SPRAY CONCERNS:
* Since pepper spray is often sprayed at a close distance, the police may try to:
- Physically remove your goggles/ breathing protection.
- Spray between your face and your goggles/mask (which if your hands are locked down, makes them a trap for the chemical).
* It can be hazardous. People have died from respiratory failure (no protesters that we are aware of).
* Asthmatics should bring their bronchodilators.
TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY CONCERNS:
* The propellants and/or active ingredients can cause cancer, are mutagenic and hence potentially teratogenic. One form of tear gas (CN) used during the WTO is 50% solvent - the solvent, methylene chloride, is a highly toxic chemical which can cause altered central nervous system function.
PLASTIC BULLET CONCERNS:
* They may shatter and penetrate eye-glasses and gas-mask lens.
For more information, see the A16 web pages on:
1) A16-Medical: Protesters' Supplies to Bring (available soon)
2) A16-Medical: Protesters' Prevention & Treatment Advice (available March 24)
3) A16-Medical: Medical Monitor's Information (available early April)
Take care & take the streets!
Yours for global justice,
The A16 Medical Team
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