The March for Women's Lives was an April 25, 2004 reproductive freedom march on the Mall of Washington, DC.
Very big march and rally on the mall - maybe 1.5 Million people. Many ages, great-grandmothers were there with their great-granddaughters. The weather was beautiful: warm, mostly sunny, and dry; and the police were generally friendly.
Street medic coverage was bottomlined by DAMN (DC), and also provided by TRAM (Pittsburgh), a group from CAM (Chicago), and a BALM Squad medic (Boston). About 10 medics attended the medic meeting before the march.
Feminist Majority doctors and street clinicians[edit | edit source]
The Feminist Majority health workers did not know about street medics ahead of time, but they gained respect for us as the day went on.
The medical tents were too close to the speakers, presenting what was maybe the number one health risk from the day. Street medics used our own money to buy some earplugs for people, and the speakers finally got turned down, but if possible tents (especially treatment areas) should NEVER be next to the speakers.
The Feminist Majority clinic tents had BLS kits and bandaids, and were unprepared gear-wise for most of what street medic clinicians saw through the day. We used TRAM supplies for musculo-skeletal injuries, allergies, nausea + vomiting; the standard problems associated wth large outdoor gatherings.
The 10th st. tent was amazingly staffed all day by a good group of volunteers.
While Feminist Majority bought their doctors emergency supplies, street medics financed our work with very tight budgets. Some leftover Feminist Majority supplies were contributed to DAMN + TRAM (thank you!), but no money flowed out for us. DAMN and TRAM (and the 2 other street medic groups that worked the march) should get some donations toward our work, if that's at all possible.
Many of the Feminist Majority doctors did not have experience relevant to action clinical work. At one time, a street medic was staff in 10th st tent with a Urologist and an OBGYN. A woman came to the tent with an injured foot, and one of the docs confided to the medic that she had not looked at a foot in 10 years. They transferred care to the medic (with only 10 days of relevant training). A bridge training for doctors might help this.
Limited focus of street medics[edit | edit source]
Other than the 10th street tent, street medics focused 3/4 of our energies on a very small group of protestors - Anti-fascist, black bloc and radical queer feeder marches. Less than 1,000 protesters out of the 1.5 million.
The other participants of the march were multigenerational, multiracial, and much more "straight" than us. At first, medic teams seemed nervous about offering care to people outside our normal repoire, but as the day progressed, we found they were excited about us and our confidence grew.
Range of health conditions[edit | edit source]
We did not take a tally of care we rendered, but if our memories serve us well, this list should serve as medical highlights of the day.
- Earplugs and decreased speaker volume for noise injuries
- Sprained ankle
- Small cuts and scrapes
- Environmental allergies
- Blisters on feet
- Cough drops for throats sore from yelling
- General fatigue and dehydration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Serious nosebleed in elderly male
Communications gap[edit | edit source]
There was a really big communications gap, which was dangerous. Nowhere in the medical system could we deal with problems that required communications. When a street medic requested an ambulance for a medical emergency, we found that the docs, the EMTs, Dr Beth, the sound people; none were in radio contact with the Lifestar ambulances Feminist Majority hired to do EMS. The ambulance closest to 10th st was empty (no crew), and it was suggested that another street medic walk 3/4 of a mile to the stage to ask the closest ambulance to the medic who had responded to the emergency for backup. When the second medic asked for a ride from the go-karts, she found out we had no contact with the go-karts either.
It is not too difficult to rent a CB or GMRS/FRS system and have a dispatch system when dealing with 1.5 Million marchers. If we even knew the Lifestar dispatch number, or the frequency they use, we could call them directly by the cell phone, CB, or GMRS/FRS that we brought for that purpose. But there was no contact list for the hired EMS.
There was no contact between these important and relevant parties:
- First aid tents a, b, c (ostensibly had internal communication via non-Lifestar EMTs with CBs, and docs/ street clinicians with Dr. Beth "dispatch")
- Lifestar ambulances (had internal communication via CB and probably dispatch)
- Go-karts (had internal communication via CB)
- Street medics (had internal communication via cell phones and GMRS radios)
So the street medics ended up being the runners between these parties for important info.
Last, we couldn't always hear our phones when they rang, and so failed to have a dependable dispatch system ourselves.
Notes[edit | edit source]
Written by TRAM clinicians