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".

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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").

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