Street Medics are a community of volunteers that provide medical and emotional support to protesters at urban and rural demonstrations, supporting communities working for social change. Street medics have responded to disasters such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, etc. Street Medics may also have other credentials such as NP, RN, MD, EMT, Paramedic, herbalist, TCM, and continue to provide care within their scope when outside of their place of employment.
During a large scale protest such as the DNC, Street Medics are vital for 2 reasons:
1) EMS often declare the area immediately around the protest to be an insecure zone. This is where injury and illness are most likely and where EMS is often not allowed to go. Street Medics are trained to recognize, stabilize and evacuate patients in precisely these situations and are trained to work in insecure settings. Street Medics utilize many wilderness first responder protocols for this reason.
2) Street Medics are often part of the same communities as protesters and have the advantage of often being more likely to be trusted by protesters for physical and psychosocial needs. In addition Street Medics are in a good position to advocate for prevention of injury and illness in the protestor community and to advocate for proper care of protestors within the established medical system.
Although Street Medics provide support to protesters, Street Medics do not directly participate in activities or actions, while providing care in the role of a Street Medic.
Street Medics train people to provide care in insecure environments and outside of the hierarchy of the established medical system, we operate under the following principles: Do No Harm, work within your scope of practice, emphasize informed consent and organize horizontally instead of hierarchically.
People with credentials or first aid training may also provide medical care at a protest such as the DNC and some may even mark themselves with red duct tape crosses or an insignia. This does not mean that they have been trained as a Street Medic, this does not mean they are part of this community and does not mean they know how to provide care in an insecure setting or provide care in keeping with the Street Medic principles listed above.
To become a Street Medic a lay person completes a 20 hour training and licensed medical professionals or people with advanced practice skills, such as experienced herbalists, complete a 10 hour bridge training. Once trained, Street Medics must get experience providing care by working with trusted and experienced Street Medics, attend further trainings and remain positive and active members of the larger street medic community. We do not provide credentials upon completion of a training, but individually and personally vet each Street Medic before they plug into any infrastructure we have set up, at each action they participate in.
Though people naturally care for each other in times of dissent, as a more formal community Street Medics go back to the era of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s with some protocols and medics from that time that are still active today.