NEW! Quick Demonstrating & Safety Guide

English -Click & Print: Quick Demonstrators Safety Guide (.pdf)
How do you stay safe and effective at a demonstration where police agents of the corporate state maybe trying to scare you away, hurt or arrest you? 
Your best move is to believe in your vision for a better world, and learn, prepare, work together, dress appropriately, pay attention at the demo, stay flexible, creative and be pro-active.  
This website is dedicated to helping you, worriers for global justice, carry out your protest objectives effectively and safely.  

Quick Protester Safety and Effectiveness Guide

(Note, this is not a substitute for more extensive knowledge) You should consult medics, legal and demonstration sources).

All  Protesters: Need to learn basic prevention, safety and treatment.

1. PLAN AHEAD: Prepare for bad weather and conditions. Bring essential supplies.Stay with a buddy. Know how to get assistance. How to re-contact your buddies if separated.
2.  ATTITUDE: You are part of a global movement for social justice. Remember, discomfort is only temporary, and you are strong. Learn about demonstration safety and effectiveness at  http://streetmedicqc.blogspot.ca/ 
3. THE #1 WEAPON OF THE POLICE IS FEAR. Once you control that,  other police tactics are manageable.
4.COMMON SENSE: Stay calm and focused. Assess what is happening and what needs to be done. Anticipate what the crowd and the police might do that could increase arrest or safety risk. Move FAST when you must.
5. SOLIDARITY: Communicate with others and you can stay safer, be more effective. Scouts can find out where the police are hiding, etc.. Be present for each other after a scary or intense experience.

1. Waterproof or water-repellent outer layers (nylon, plastic) repels pepper spray and tear gas
2. Eye, Breathing and Face Protection: Ski or swim goggles. Safety goggles. Clear face shield, etc. Bandanna, scarf, mask (wet with water, lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar (for tear gas). Helmet.
3. Water! (lots) in sports bottles for flushing away chemicals in eyes or on skin. Hydration.
4. Anti-chemical solution (pepper spray or tear gas). 1/2 Water + 1/2 Liquid anti-acid (i.e.unscented Maalox, etc with aluminum hydroxide as main ingredient).
5. Dress for the weather! You might be outside for a long time.

Danger Zones: Anyplace near the police: Almost all  violence at demonstrations is by or against the police.

***** SAFE SPACE *****
Anticipate a safe space to treat yourselves, or to escape. Side street, doorway, behind a car, etc.) Ask others to help create a safe zone around a treatment area.

Both sting, especially in eyes. Cause coughing. Pepper spray can spasm shut eyelids. Pepper spray can sting for up to 45 minutes. Tear gas (once you are in a clean space) is much less.
Will stick to cotton clothes, keffiyehs, skin & hair.
Eye water flush (direction nose-to-ear) for those NOT wearing contacts. Otherwise gentile water eye wash. Consider a safe "liquid antacid" solution (sometimes called "maalox" which helps neutralize the stinging for eyes and skin.

*MIX: 1/2 water + 1/2 liquid antacid (i.e. Maalox). Keep in spray bottle.
*Treatment: Shake. Spray in eyes (blink), mouth (swish & spit), on skin.
(A liquid antacid with aluminum hydroxide as main ingredient. Make sure it does not contain potassium as some antacids and laxatives do - that will cause more eye irritation).
Even milk helps neutralize the chemicals.

Tear gas: Move to clean air. Rinse skin, eyes, mouth with water first.

AFTER: Shower off chemicals. Wash or discard clothes.
De-Stress: Talk with others about your stressful experiences, and what lessons might be learned.

Attitude is key. Stay solid, centered. Help each other. If arrested, only tell police in Canada your name, address and date of birth. You do not have a right to lie to them.  Be respectful but best not to talk with them, certainly don't implicate yourself or others in a crime.   The police & guards want to discourage you from protesting. They might try to make you uncomfortable. They often lie about when you are going to be released, about what your friends said you did, etc..
If handcuffs or tie-wraps are too tight, ask they be loosened to avoid nerve injury. If no response from one cop, ask another.
If mass arrest, stay in contact with each other & a lawyer. CONTEST ALL CHARGES & FINES. Charges can be dropped  - but only if you contest.

The Medical Monitors: Each group should designate someone with more advanced medic training, who is responsible for their basic prevention/treatment supplies,
knows how to access the medical system, ensures their comrades are treated and followed-up.


1. Introduction for Protesters and Medics

Video of Montreal striking students against tuition hikes bravely demonstrating while police assault them with sound bombs, fear, charges, batons, and pepper spray. One student, Francis Grenier, lost an eye from the sound bomb ("flash bang"). Two weeks later, 250,000+ marched for the student strike. Four months and hundreds of demonstrations later, the goverment calls an election to "settle the strike".

Please share this information

How do you stay safe and effective at a demonstration where police agents of the corporate state maybe trying to scare you away, hurt or arrest you? 
Your best move is to believe in your vision for a better world, and learn, prepare, work together, dress appropriately, pay attention at the demo, stay flexible, creative and be pro-active.  
This website is dedicated to helping you, worriers for global justice, carry out your protest objectives effectively and safely.  
We are occasionally updating the information, and have added a new section (2/2013) on Police Tactics below. Your suggestions and corrections are appreciated.

As a protester or a street medic, one should always be aware of the opportunities and the dangers, both medical and otherwise, at a demonstration that may get intense. Sometimes, it is the weather - not the police - that cause medical problems. This blogsite deals mostly with preparing for medical emergencies and direct-action at a protest,  and safe treatment of common demonstration medical issues. We believe that preventing fear, arrests and injuries are better than a cure. 

Also we include fun but essential  advice on how to be aware of what is really going on, and choosing the best tactics to be safe and effective in intense demos. 

We are medics, not webmasters, so expect to find problems with this website. Please send us suggestions or corrections.
This web site contains general and detailed information of the safety issues a protester  and a street medic should be aware of before going to a protest. Pay attention to and please pass around  the information on preventative measures you can teach others to take to avoid being hurt or arrested.
  1. General Principles, Stay Safe on the streets, Street Medics
  2. Training for effective direct action
  3. How to Dress, What to Bring, What not to bring or wear 
  4. Police weapons: Pepper Spray, Tear Gas, Plastic and Rubber Bullets, Sound Bombs, etc.
  5. Where are the police hiding, and what are their intentions?
  6. General First Aid, General Safety, Hypothermia
  7. Standard Small First Aid Kit

FIRST- Do No Harm

Make sure you apply treatments within your ability and understanding level.
Recognize your limits.
Ask for or refer to someone more experienced when needed.
Experienced health workers know that asking for help is often absolutely essential.

Second: Always introduce yourself and ask for permission to treat someone

Just because someone may appear in need, it doesn't mean they want you to touch or treat them. Be polite, introduce yourself, explain your capacity to help, get permission to treat them, and then explain the steps of the treatment before each step.

The Big Picture

This First Aid information will describe simple and effective techniques to prevent and treat most of the effects from tear gas, pepper spray, trauma, weather problems and some other possibilities.

Those methods used by the police against us are not so much weapons of pain, as they are tools of distraction. The fear of pepper spray and tear gas is a diversion intended to control us, to cloud our vision and obscure the weakness of the corporate State - devoid of joy or love, knowing only the language of threats and fear.

Fear thrives on uncertainty and lack of knowledge. There is a lot of information here. We urge that each Affinity Group or group of buddies to appoint a Medical Monitor who learns - or can effectively refer to this, and the other health documents on Supplies and Advice that we have issued. We want you to stay healthy, happy and active.
"What history really shows is that today's empire is tomorrow's ashes, that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the human spirit."
-- Mumia Abu Jamal
Remember, they're more scared of us than we are of them. They understand clearly we have the power to change this rotten system, and we have already shown that we can face down our fears.

    Stay human


    Four levels of demonstration health preperation and care

    1- Protesters:
    Protesters should learn basic street safety awareness and techniques, preparation, and treatment. They should have or seek information about resources of the organization behind the protests (legal, medical, logistics, etc.)

    2- Medical Monitors:
    Each affinity group (AG) should designate someone as their Medical Monitor to be trained more extensively than the rest of the group. This person will make sure the group has basic first aid supplies, will know basic first aid, how to access the medical system, and documents the medical history of the group.

    3- Street Medics:
    Trained & organized to provide most first aid needed at a protest to anyone requesting aid and we can treat.

    4- Emergency Medical System:
    Hospitals, clinics, ambulances and 911. Provide care for more complicated injuries or illnesses. Ambulances may not approach a protest zone, or only work under police direction, however, hence the need for street medics.
    In Montreal, we have noticed at the student demonstrations that some Urgence Sante EMTs are dressed in the same riot gear as the riot police, and work along side them. However, in our limited experience, they have been courteous and professional when treating injured protesters.
    In the U.S. the EMTs and ambulance crews often seem like wannabe cops, dressed in SWAT team black, and may act stupidly macho. Yet we have been pleasantly surprised as to how many are genuinely polite and caring when with protesters and homeless people.

    Show respect to other health professionals and police during a medical intervention, and more likely, respect will be shown to you.

What is a Street Medic?

    Some protests are usually accompanied by police, who in the worst cases, injure protesters and bystanders who are involved in their democratic right to freedom of speech and assembly. Other factors that contribute to the risks at a protest include people doing tactics they are untrained for, and yes, being outside for a long time in weather they are not prepared for. Street Medics are there to respond to the needs of the people before, during and after these events. In the face of a lack of adequate emergency services street medics do their best to provide a substitute for services such as emergency transport, first aid and support.

    Our Mandate
    As Quebec medics, we are reacting to the systemic and predictable violence that is the state response to our political expression. We will advise, train and treat anyone in need within our abilities and will not discriminate based on the individual's tactical choices.

    The goal of the Quebec medics is to assist with the efforts of protesters. The Medical Team will help you, the warriors for global justice, stay as active, healthy and engaged in the struggle as possible. We will provide free treatment to the best of our ability to anyone who is in need as well as public trainings for Medical Monitors and general protesters, because the first step in first aid is prevention.

    Common Sense Safety

    USE YOUR HEAD: If it is a relaxed, short "family-friendly demo, this probably doesn't apply. But if you feel the police, the weather or the duration might be a problem: 

    PLAN AHEAD: For essential needs, care and supplies. Know what to expect. Know how to get assistance. How to re-contact your buddies if separated.

    Work with a buddy or better - form an affinity group 
    An affinity group can be short or long term. Together you can support each other, divide tasks, and accomplish much more activity, direct-action, support for others, etc., than you can individually.
    Be in solidarity.
    Communicate with other key people and groups at a demonstration.
    Talk with each other about how you are feeling, and what you want to do if things get messy. How to re-connect if separated. If possible, return to the same spot you last were together.

    BEWARE OF RUMORS: They are usually false, and foster fear & disruption. Deal with the known truth from your trusted buddies and scouts.
    (Photo: Darren Ell)

    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. You can maintain your calm determination so police tactics (or if worse comes to worse - jail issues) are easily manageable.
    Rubber Bullet Clown- Fighting Fear, We're not so afraid. Lawyer Bill Sloan at the May Day parade plays with a rubber bullet shot at anti-capitalists earlier. Every day now, thousands in the streets of Montreal demonstrating. (Photo: Scottmontreal)
    KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: In a demonstration that has police provocation and potential arrests, you should know you legal rights, and if worse comes to worse, how to contact legal help. In Quebec, read this BEFORE you hit the streets. "Guess What? We've Got Rights!" by the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality.

    COMMON SENSE: Keep your wits, assess what is going down and what needs to be done.

    BE CALM and 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.

    DOCUMENT police actions, brutality & injuries.

    ANGER Intense anger is quite common with injustice, and can be useful if you are prepared and able to focus it. Maybe you can use your anger to protect your space,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.


    This is not a safe space to make out.
    Always know where a safe space is to to get away from immediate dangers, and treat yourselves or others. Ask other to help create a safe zone around a treatment area. Prevent undercover photographers from filming the injured. A safe space is what you make of it and they can change. It can be a doorway, park, alley, restaurant, the metro, a city bus, or on the front lines in the arms of your comrades.

    •The layout of the area. Think ahead about where you will go if there's trouble. As you move keep an exit plan in mind. Have a map if you are in an unfamiliar place.
    The plan for the demonstration and your group, as much as possible.
    •The attitude of the cops, and how they might respond to protestors.
    • Pay attention to what the cops are doing, where they are moving. 
    • Are they relaxed, or are they tense and ready for battle? What equipment & weapons they are carrying. 
    • Watch out for groups of undercover cops - tend to have the body type of athletic cops, and work in groups. Provocateurs are used by the police but are not cops. They can look like anyone. 
    • Send scouts out to report on cops & actions hidden from your view.
    •How to contact legal help if you are arrested or otherwise detained. Write the legal contact number in indelible ink on your skin, in a place where you could see it when handcuffed.
    •Where the medics are, and if there is a medic treatment space (commonly known as the "clinic").

Who we are

Some of us are regular people trained as street medics. Some of us are health professionals trained as street medics. We are volunteers. Together, we are active and we support people active in the struggle for justice, human rights for all, the right to demonstrate, do direct actions, etc..
Some of us are also active in the struggle to maintain universal access to our health care system. We support free health care for ALL, regardless of their citizenship and legal status. Health care is a human right. We need to keep it that way.
When we can, we provide training for protesters and medics.

You can contact us via:

Facebook: MilitantEs et premiers soins
Infirmières et infirmiers contre la hausse des frais de scolarité

e-mail:   infomedimilitante@yahoo.ca
Telephone:  Montréal Medics, QPIRG-Concordia - (514) 848-7585


How To Dress for the Revolution, Medic's gear

Let's start with the basics. (Photo: La Presse)

As a protester a number of simple steps can help greatly in combating the efficiency of a chemical weapon's & projectiles' ability to harm you. The following are a list of general guidelines, followed by a complete list of clothing items to bring.

Rain gear, water resistant, chemical resistant (Tyvek suit) and synthetic clothes as outer layers tend to be police chemical resistant too.  However, you can sweat a lot in non breathable clothes.
Cover up as much as possible to protect skin from tear gas or pepper spray exposure.
Wear clinched wrist and ankle clothing.

Avoid cotton, polar-fleece and wool as outer layers, which are fuzzy and absorb chemicals.
Rinse clothes after washing well. Used mild or non-detergent soaps. This is because detergents enhance the effects of the chemicals on one's skin.  

Victoriaville. (Photo: Darren Ell)

Dress for the weather! 
Changing Hot, Cold and Rainy weather can fuck you up more than the police if not prepared properly, and you do not bring enough water and food!
We see it over and over: Rallies or marches in extreme weather, maybe arrests. Protesters get dehydrated, sun stroke, sunburned, or they get chilled, frozen, hypothermic.
You might be out a long time, so PREPARE as if you were going HIKING in the raw elements. 
Check out these links for dealing with the SUN & HEAT, and the COLD.

Try out your new stuff before the demo.

Protection against projectiles and batons, but not against chemicals.

Basic eye protection against chemicals. Costs $5 to $20. Bring extra for others.
 To PREVENT FOGGING: Get anti-fog solution. Or simply use shampoo. Smear a light coat on, let it dry and buff off.
 •Don't wear it tight on top of your forehead while not using - your sweat will fog it.

Sealed protection against chemicals. May shatter with plastic or rubber bullets.
 To PREVENT FOGGING: Get anti-fog solution. Or simply use shampoo. Smear a light coat on, let it dry and buff off.
 •Don't wear it tight on top of your forehead while not using - your sweat will fog it.
Tested against hockey pucks and sticks. Probably good against rubber foam bullets and pepper spray to the eyes. Not sure about protection against plastic bullets. Need bandanna to protect breathing from chemical weapons.

There is a trade-off here between comfort and protection. 

The following is a list of clothing a protester could wear at a demo risking police violence.
·        Rain  or water resistant clothes and hat ·
·        Comfortable & dry shoes, running shoes or sturdy boots
·        Sealed Goggles, (swim or ski) for chemical weapons.
      Helmet: bicycle. Consider hockey helmet with clear face shield (good against pucks and rubber bullets).
·        Gas Mask, Face Filter, Respirator or Bandana soaked in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for tear gas or pepper spray.          
·        Spare Clothes & sealed bag
·        Heavy Work Gloves for removing hot tear gas canisters.
·        Bicycle, sports, motorcycle or military helmets with shatter resistant face shields if chance of plastic & rubber bullets.
*    Padded Pants, or Goalie Pads for sit-downs.

On the other hand, maybe you should NOT LOOK LIKE A PROTESTER to avoid police attention. Bring or wear straight clothes, makeup, brand name shopping bag, a business or secretary suit, construction clothes, etc. to blend in with non-protesters.

If you will part of a front line group facing off against a line of police, you need greater protective gear. Consider home-made and sports protective gear; body padding; head, face and eye protection, etc.. There are web sites dedicated to examples you may consider.  Check out the “SHIELDBOOK”  website, and our page on improvised shields and masks.

Do Not Wear:
Piercings, jewellery, ties, or anything else that can be grabbed by the police. Some piercings may be taped over.
Contact Lenses if risking pepper spray. Chemicals can get trapped between them & eyes. May cause corneal damage. 

What you might not want to bring to a demonstration:
The police may dump your 'suspicious' fluids in a bottle, seize your gas mask or wooden stick for your sign.

Be creative and flexible. This demonstrator doesn't need to hold a banner.

If arrested, you're stuff will be taken from you, and some things like your gas mask might be stolen from you. You pockets will be emptied, wallet, purse and backpack could be searched and all contents photocopied or digitally copied. In jail, they will take your belt and shoelaces.

They might copy your address book,  cell phone SIM card for your contacts, and your camera's memory card. They might use your photos of people for their surveillance of groups and individuals, or to even to identify someone for committing a crime. (which is why you should be discrete who and what you photograph)

Illegal drugs or stuff like a pocket knife may get you another legal charge.

General Supplies common to all members of an action:
  • Emergency Telephone Numbers
  • Snacks, food
  • Lots of Water (2l a day)
  • Money for phones, food, taxi, etc.
  • Pad, pen, markers
  • Map
  • Spare Clothes in sealed bag
  • Optional Items:
  • Two-Way Radio, cell phone
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket/Sleeping bag
  • Fanny Pack
  • Knife or Scissors (careful--cops may consider these weapons)
  • First Aid Kit

Supplies specific to medical treatments and trained medics. Only bring items you are competent in using:
  • A good First Aid Kit
  • Nitryle or vinyl gloves
  • Stethoscope
  • Blood Pressure Cuff
  • Tongue Depressor
  • 4X4 Dry Gauze Sponges
  • Tampons & menstrual pads
  • Tape: Duct & medical
  • Map of hospitals
  • Triangular bandages
  • Scissors
  • Eye Flush  bottles(squeezable sports water bottles)
  • Liquid Antacid and Water (1:1 ratio)
  • Elastic 'Ace' bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Safety pins
  • Ice pack
  • Flashlight*
  • Antiseptic
  • Tweezers*
  • Bandanas soaked in Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Splint
  • Contact Lens Container
  • Red Marker
  • Hemostats
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Syrup or ipecac*
  • Eye Patches*
  • Thermometer*
  • First Aid Manual