Mar. 25th, 2012

mellowtigger: (people not profits)
I finished that 3-day street medic training that I mentioned previously.  The sociology of street medicine is fascinating.

The class was a little bit different from what I expected. Much of it focuses on assessing injuries rather than "fixing" them. It's very important to determine which injuries need to be referred quickly to more highly trained professionals.  Street medics can use a cell phone to call 911 for an ambulance, the same way as any other person would do it.  City medical providers, however, will not enter any area that the police deem an "unsafe scene". The street medics will try to assist a person in such situations to move where the ambulance personnel can reach them.

Street medics offer assistance that is always optional; anyone can refuse help at any time.  Every intervention is always at the discretion of the recipient.  Consent is implied if the person is unconscious.  The instructors mentioned that when doctors or nurses come to help at a street medic station, they have a difficult time adjusting to this non-authoritative methodology. Like the Occupation movement in general, even the street medics have a non-hierarchical approach. The autonomy of the patient must not be compromised.  There is no "72-hour hold" to impose on a drunk person shouting obscenities at everyone, for example.

For the non-critical problems like strains and minor cuts, street medics carry simple supplies they can use to help until the person decides to find a medical provider on their own.   I had fun learning how to wrap someone's arm to support a strained shoulder. My first attempt produced a useless mess of stretched gauze. *laugh* My second attempt was much better.  I also practiced flushing out someone's eyes (brave volunteer/instructor) for when they have been pepper sprayed.

It was a good experience, and I'm glad to have learned through it. Because it is limited to only 3 days, it can cover only superficially the many medical interventions that could be more thoroughly explained in weeks of training for a topic like Wilderness First Responder. A class in CPR would also be a helpful supplement to the education. Because Minnesotans are prone to bringing their pet dogs along on all of their outdoor adventures, I also mentioned the Wildlife Rehabilitator Conference as a good place to learn a few skills in caring for 4-legged Occupiers.

It's a fascinating free class. The Occupation movement really is experimenting with a new kind of society. I like it.

Whether I join the street medic crew when I next visit the Occupation will be an important decision for me. My own B12-related tiredness makes me very reluctant to commit to something so significant when I may not have the stamina to follow through. I need to ride my bicycle to work a few times first, then I'll know how well my motivation holds up after such exertions. We'll see how it goes.

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