Some basic things that are expected of street medics for our protection and efficacy in treating patients.
Do no harm Edit
Always treat within your skill level: never use supplies or practices that you have not properly been trained to use. You can seriously injure people if you try to go above what you've been taught.
- Also, at this level we are not trained to diagnose. Rather we can only "suspect" certain injuries.
- This or other readings are not substitutes for training.
Respect patients, other medics, and other protesters. Remember not to talk down when someone is vulnerable.
Continuing education Edit
You are expected to update and refresh your medical skills through reading, further trainings, practice, and asking questions to other people with medical knowledge. Review the notes you take in street medic trainings. Pair up with more experienced medics at actions. Realize that your medical knowledge will grow rusty, and work to keep it current.
Never lie to a patient or tell them that everything will be ok. People can tell and you will only end up losing their trust.
We all need to be accountable for what we do wrong as well as what we do right. This is hard: it's not always our first impulse to readily admit we dealt with something wrong. Honesty is expected as much as follow-through to resolve a conflict. Take responsibility for making an error, work to be receptive to constructive criticism and to be able to find out good criticism, too.
Always get the person's permission BEFORE you touch them or treat them in any way. They have the right to refuse all or any part of care at any time. Give them time, space, and information so they can make an informed choice. Tell them what you're going to do and get their permission. Some people are legitimately bothered by physical contact. Consent is implied when the person is unconscious: it is assumed that they would want qualified treatment if they could say so.
We never give out names or identifying information that could single a person out (i.e. someone's address or description). This is simply not our information to give out, and we don't know how it will end up harming the person to do so. Only divulge information with the person's consent, and always assume a conservative estimate of what that person wants to be divulged.
Medics often share info about people they treated in transferring care or in order to improve their knowledge. It is necessary to only give out information that keeps the person anonymous. Bad: "The blond girl from the Philly affinity group that got her head clubbed on 45th St. and Forsyth." Good: "19 yr old, head wound with scalp laceration, heart rate 108..." Please be mindful of people who are within earshot of what you are saying.
It is your responsibility to advocate for your patient to the best of your knowledge and ability. Some examples could be: dealing with pushy hospital staff who are not listening to what your patient wants or telling the media to go away when your patient does not want to talk with them.
This expectation, combined with Do no harm (above), is also called the Lazy medics code. Keeping yourself safe is your first priority. Never create a second patient. You cannot help anyone else if you are in need of care. Always make sure you have identified and eliminated any hazards before you start first-aid treatment.
Know your needs and limitations. Are there some situations you don't feel comfortable in? Are there any triggers that make you lose it? Make sure you have what you need to ensure your well-being, and be sure your buddy and other medics know what you need.
Consider the emotional impacts of police brutality for a moment. Someone who has been hurt by a cop has been treated in a very dehumanizing way, designed to degrade, disempower, create fear, and leave them feeling empty and isolated. Calm, comfort, and reassurance may be all they need at that moment. At times it helps to connect with someone to let them know that they are not alone, that you are there to help the best you can.
You may need some re-humanization yourself-- realize that you may be affected by seeing or hearing the story of brutality, and work out ways to cope. Talk, debrief with someone within 24-48 hours. Crying isn't always a bad thing.
Keep track of injuries and other events (as you deem appropriate and safe). List time, place, who was involved (but keep in mind patient confidentiality,) care given. Bring a little notebook and pen. Medics may be gathering that information at the end of the day-- take at least a tally of the different injuries you treated that day.
Be accessible to the protesters. Make eye contact. Avoid bunches and medic cliques.
Stay with Edit
Stay with the person you're treating until
- your treatment is done and the person knows your treatment is done or
- you transfer care to someone with a higher skill level, more knowledge, or more experience or
- the person refuses your care or
- the scene becomes a threat to your life and safety.
Good Samaritan laws Edit
This set of U.S. laws provides limited legal protection from liability of non-professional first aiders. The laws are not guaranteed in every region.
You are covered by the Good Samaritan laws if
- you provide free, voluntary care;
- you act within the scope of your training and knowledge.
You are not covered if
- you give someone an over-the-counter drug (like aspirin or Advil), or someone else's prescription medicine (like an inhaler or heart medication);
- This is legally called prescribing. There are many specific laws about who can prescribe and under what circumstances
- you have a medical license like RN or MD;
- Licensed medical professionals often have a "duty to act" that does not apply to lay first-aiders.
- you commit gross negligence, willful harm, or abandonment.
The specifics of the laws vary from state to state. If you are worried about the law, research it. Lazy medics prevent problems so they don't have to treat them later.
Only lawyers can give legal advice, and we are not lawyers, so none of this is legal advice. Always research laws or consult a lawyer if you want to learn about the law. The law likes to change.