As autonomous volunteers, there is no guarantee folks are available, but we can ask around and see if anyone is able to make it and serve the needs & risks you specify (community health, domestic terrorists, fever screening, weather, etc).
We generally supply our own consumables and equipment, but it can help new folks getting started, increase access to this role for lower-income folks, and help us better serve the community to have support
There is no official certification or guild, but there are trainings that can help you help folks. Traditionally, folks do a 20hr Street Medic training for relevant skills & to help unlearn harmful practices we learn in the health field
Why are people wearing a red cross?
Anyone can put a duct tape red cross on their chest. As a community, we generally take it in good faith that a person doing this means to indicate that asking them for help will get you help. Maybe they have band-aids. Maybe they have training.
Historically, the red cross (and crescent and diamond) indicates neutrality, a source of medical and humanitarian aid, and per the Geneva Conventions, a party that should not be shot. Importantly, domestic law enforcement agents are not held to the standards of the Geneva Conventions when interacting with US citizens, and both law enforcement agents and domestic terrorists have targeted those with medical insignia for violence.
What is a Street Medic?
Generally, a Street Medic is a person with some level of medical training + training specific to the medical, safety, and social responsibility considerations in a protest context
Really, no one owns the term “Street Medic” and most of those in the space aren’t interested in policing the use of the term. Many Street Medics that organize to support protests expand over time to offer broad community medic and humanitarian support.
Street Medics operate as individuals, as support for a small affinity group, and/or in communities and collectives. We have a few medic communities in town, all of which prioritize the needs of disenfranchised communities and social justice movement work:
Pittsburgh, I can’t Breathe Medics
Born out of the Facebook group Pittsburgh, I can’t Breathe, this is a loosely affiliated community of folks offering medic support, mental health support, and helping hands that distribute water, masks, etc. There is no minimum training or vetting required to be involved through this community.
Action Medical Pittsburgh (AMP)
This is a group of folks with at least 8 hours of medical training, an hour of orientation, and a commitment to community agreements including social justice concepts and practices.
Steel City Organizing for Radical Community Health (SCORCH)
This is a medic collective with all members having completed either a 20-hour street medic training or a 8-hour bridge training for medical professionals and vetted to ensure security in movement work. This organization hosts 20-hour street medic trainings – watch for news of the next one here.
Street Medics operate autonomously but generally subscribe to ethical guidelines developed over time in the Street Medic community.
- First Do No Harm
Medics employ treatments that must never harm the patient more than they help. Do no harm to yourself, your buddy, your patient, anyone else around. Don’t operate outside your scope of practice and recognize when your patient needs a higher level of care.
- Radical Consent
Make sure there is informed consent from the patient at every step of providing care.
- Tactical Neutrality
– When on duty (i.e. wearing medic markings), support actions by being present but refrain from engaging in the tactics of the march (like chanting or carrying banners)
– When on duty, street medics attempt to render aid to injured persons including those they disagree with; but are not expected to treat anyone who may be unsafe to interact with. This includes white supremacists or cops. They may withdraw if aid is refused or if the person or scene poses a threat to the safety of the medic or their buddy.
– At all times, maintain an attitude of goodwill, solidarity, trust, respect, and comradery; refrain from hostile or derogatory comments towards or about any active protesters
- St Paul Principles
In clarity for tactical neutrality, trained medics agree to the St Paul Principles. Public infighting and policing of tactics divides the movement and does the State’s work for them. When we allow space for all tactics, we are stronger, we are larger, we are united in purpose, and the powers that be are more challenged to hold us back. The St Paul Principles are a good baseline for solidarity and support:
1. our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.
2. the actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.
3. any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. we oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. we agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
Note: Street Medic ≠ Street Medicine
Street Medicine is distinct from Street Medic-ing, and is a practice where licensed physicians treat unhoused folks.