Report 1 Edit
In case everyone hasn't heard,
Cinci went fairly well Edit
- 53 arrests
- no medics taken in
- 2 of us were exposed to sprayed tear gas
- no super serious injuries that i heard of
Report 2 Edit
To those who missed Cincinnati and haven't heard much yet, it was quite an experience. For the dozen or so of us who donned red crosses and entered the streets as Street Medics -- whether for the first time ever, or as something akin to a routine adventure -- there was something magical about being a medic in Cinci. With the support of two amazing and beautiful and warm clinicians (M. and R.) holding down the fort, we spent the better part of 3 grueling days in the cold taking care of the family.
The action was somewhat sporadic, but there was enough of it to go around. There were no enormous mass casualty situations, but on both Friday and Saturday our teams were called on to treat a number of protestors, typically for CS contamination via spray cans or gas cannisters.
Buddy teams and self-care Edit
Everyone I saw treating was doing an outstanding job. Buddy teams worked better than I've ever seen them operate. There was, as always, a lot we couldn't get to as a result of police lines reforming, or arrests being made, but I didn't hear of anyone going untreated who could've been helped. Images of those we couldn't reach will haunt us all -- but we'll get to them next time!
Personally, as my 5th major action of the year, it was perhaps the most rewarding precisely because we weren't just a team or a squad or a collective -- it was more like being a family. Medics took care of protestors, but on a level and scale unprecedented in my brief experience, we took care of each other, physically, emotionally, and socially. We kept each other grounded, kept egos well in check (right?), and stayed focused on our duties. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of crying and a lot of hugging. And I must say, if I learned anything from the Cinci experience, it's that as an action medical organizer, I want to do everything in my ability from now on to make sure that in the future medics have the same opportunities as we had in Cinci.
A solid medical squad Edit
All specifics aside for now, I think we demonstrated that a few factors can ensure a solid medical squad at any action:
- A secure, friendly clinic space with competent, smiling clinicians
- Extensive, confident trainings and retrainings, and practice
- Social proximity, including eating and sleeping in the same place with the whole gang
- Taking our job seriously in the streets
- Leaders willing to listen; new folks willing to lead
- Being able to express anger, fear, nervousness, sadness, elation; feeling able to latch onto anyone on the squad and just start crying or joking
- Being able to openly but constructively criticize one another vis- a-vis our actions and attitudes in the streets; willingness to learn from our own and each others' mistakes...
- RESPECT for one another
Report 3 Edit
- i am sitting here in montana
- on a snowy monday morning
- ohio seems a long way away
- being in cincinnati for those 3 weeks
- was a valuable experience
- it allowed me to see the process
- as a whole
the trainings Edit
- d., you laid the groundwork for all of the positive work that ensued
- b., with much patience and caring you taught that 8 hour first aid class
- we all learned and learned
- i was also impressed with how your second class
- the general medical and safety info for activists was received
- p. and d., your trainings instilled a confidence that proved crucial to the collective's success
- your teaching and mentoring in the class and on the street was responsible for the strength that i saw exhibited by every medic there
- a., your information on stress was very helpful and needs to become more a part of the trainings
the clinic Edit
- a healing space
- everyone contributed to that
- b., thank you for all of your wonderful help and energy
- r., for sharing the terror waiting for medics to return safely and ordering french fries at exactly the perfect time
- and b., who helped equip the clinic, shared contacts, was available whenever he was needed
early networking was very valuable Edit
the drop in center, our landlord and the largest shelter for the homeless in ohio was so supportive, setting up the decontam area, and providing back-up space in case the shit hit the fan
so many people to thank Edit
- for the sharing , the music, the laughter, the touch, the tears
- it was a privilege to work with all
- street medics rock
- cincinnati was a good model
- let's do it again
Report 4 Edit
A few reflections on the action itself, as others have already commented adequately on the med organization.
Contact lenses Edit
First and foremost. Always, always, always, make sure that contact lenses are removed and never, never, never, assume that others have already asked.
My team came upon someone who hade been maced and was being treated (eye-flush) by other protesters. When I arrived I asked if he was wearing contact lenses. He was and had not been asked by others. I asked him to remove them and he did (he removed them without any assistance even though his eyes were shut during earlier treatments). He continued to experience significant burning pain in the eyes for 20-30 minutes after that. He stayed with us for quite some time as we led him back to the main stage (his vision was bad enough without the contact lenses, not to mention the mace, that we felt he could not be left alone to walk back).
When we separated I insisted that he has his eyes examined ASAP. We saw him the next day and he said that he had seen an eye doctor and that he had a burnt cornea and some hazing. They did not know at that time if the damage would be permanent. Follow-up information that we have gotten indicates that he will recover fully but had the contact lenses not been removed it would have been another story.
It is true that we don't have a confirmed case of permanent eye injury from chemicals and eye contacts and I hope we never will. But this case illustrates clearly that it is quite possible. I know as a trainer I will be even more adamant on this issue.
On the plus side, it was reported by another med team that when they had been surrounded by the police and ordered to sit down along with other demonstrators, they heard one of the protesters yelling to others to remove their contact lenses. Even if we cannot treat everyone at once we can always yell to people to remove their lenses. Be prepared to assist them in evacuating the area after that as their vision will not be very good!
About the chemicals used in Cin and the treatments we used Edit
The tear gas canisters that were deployed were cold propellant, not heat based. They were a mixture of CS and OC according to the info on a canister that was found. We found that the LAW treatment was often effective in treating that tear gas.
The Cin police also used Mace (individually held and deployed spray canisters of chemical agents). Mace is of course a very catch-all term, very rarely used to denote actual Mace anymore. Assuming that the police used brand name Mace here is some information which I have found.
The mace that was used on the above-mentioned person with the contact lenses also contained visible reddish dye (be aware that at first sight it might look like blood, it sure did to me, which made me skip more than a couple of heartbeats considering it was his eye that was marked!). The only Mace brand product that is sold with visible dye is their "triple action" which is CN, OC and dye. Law was mildly effective in both eyes and skin on that person. We had already done multiple eye flushes by that time and MOFIBA.
The mace that they used on us later did not seem to contain any dye. I was hit three times, twice in the face and once by the ear (I turned my head) and no dye was visible on me or anyone else. Mace does sell a Michigan-approved "double action" formula that is CS and UV dye. I don't know if that is sold only in Michigan. We did not check for the presence of UV dye. Other non-dye products by Mace are various concentrations of OC.
That "mace" did smell and taste an awful lot like CS and it could have been from another manufacturer. However, a mouth rinse with LAW was extremely effective not only in removing the taste and burn from the mouth but also in facilitating breathing (if whatever is in the mouth is neutralized then it is not breathed in again and again). It is the only treatment I did to my self at the time and the only one I did to others after eye flushes if they were needed (there was no time to do MOFIBA). The macing I got also very quickly and very effectively cleared out a sinus congestion that I had for a few days, something more likely to occur with OC and even CN than CS.
We still don't know what they used at different times but I am giving all the information I have at this time as a means to help all of us evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. We have no evidence to show that LAW would work on plain CS or CN at this time but also no indication that it would do harm so I would encourage its use at all times, with careful evaluation of its effectiveness afterwards.
Trying different treatments Edit
When I returned to the clinic I used soap and water as a skin treatment for my face (I had intentionally not done MOFIBA until that time). By the time we got to the clinic it would have been 1-2 hours from exposure and I had a nice stinging sensation all over my face, stronger around my ear. Soap and water is the often listed ER/hospital treatment for CS/CN/OC. The soap we had was Palmolive anti-bacterial liquid soap (orangish color). It was quite ineffective in treating the stinging on the skin and made the pain much worse despite adequate quantities of water. MOFIBA was done on my after I had thoroughly rinsed my face and that brought some good relief. Personally, at that point I would have rather taken a long cool shower. Then we flushed one eye with saline and treated the other with LAW (neither had been flushed with water yet). The LAW brought the most relief but also significant clouding which impaired my vision for a few minutes. The saline kept my eyes clear but also had more of a sting to it and brought less relief.
The delay in being treated and the fact that it was done on only one person makes the results of our little experimentation less than conclusive of course. But I hope that they can give us some additional basis for evaluating and fine tuning our treatments and protocols.
Eye protection Edit
By the way, the only protection I was wearing when I got maced was a set of OSHA-type eyeglasses (shatterproof and UV protection). While they do not provide any seal around the eyes whatsoever, it prevented the Mace spray from getting into my eyes directly (which was a major factor in my ability to function, adrenaline being a very close second) and they look perfectly normal (as opposed to goggles, bandannas, or masks). They also provide some protection from other projectiles. I strongly recommend them!