Health // Safety // Mutual Aid

Melbourne Street Medic Collective

Tear Gas Decontamination and Aftercare #Ferguson

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TEAR GAS DECONTAMINATION

If you’re helping others, wear gloves – the chemicals will quickly contaminate other people and materials!

Decontamination:

  1. Remove contaminated clothing and wipe off any remaining chemicals with gauze/rags.

  2. Spray vegetable or mineral oil on any skin exposed to the gas (NOT THE FACE) and wipe off with new gauze/rags.

  3. Wipe skin down again with new gauze/rags and rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol.

Aftercare:

  • Shower with cold water and scrub your skin with soap. Hot water opens pores, which may let chemicals penetrate more deeply.

  • Don’t take a bath – you don’t want to soak in the chemicals!

  • Position yourself so that contaminated water from your hair does not run all over your skin – especially your face!

For your clothes:

  • Place contaminated clothes in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash them or dispose of them.

  • Clothes contaminated with tear gas can be hung out in the wind. It may take several days before the smell is gone.

  • Wash clothes with a strong detergent-based soap (this is not a time for eco-friendly, detergent-free products).

  • Coats, furniture, rugs and other items can be exposed to air or steam cleaned; some recommend adding 5-10% baking soda to the steam water.

The effects of tear gas and pepper spray are usually temporary.

Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe or ongoing breathing problems

  • Ongoing eye irritation

  • Skin rash

  • Symptoms that persist, worsen, or reappear.

Many people feel fatigued or ill after chemical exposure. This is a good time to take extra good care of yourself. Drink a lot of water, eat nutritious food, and get enough sleep. Many different herbs can help detoxify the body-ask an herbalist for recommendations.

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Banner Drop by WACA for #Gaza

On Saturday the 2nd of August a group called Whistleblowers, Activists, and Citizens Alliance (WACA) called for members and allies to unite for an action in the city to show our support for Palestine and Gaza in light of the apartheid and unjustifiable extermination of their population by the Israeli State.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the news reports, personal stories, photos and videos come through from Palestine. For the last 3 weeks in Melbourne there have been rallies in the city to condemn the actions of the Israeli State and raise awareness of the issue within the community. At each rally there has been a good turnout, the speeches have been powerful, the energy in the crowd has been palpable. Last Friday’s action still drew a large crowd in spite of Melbourne weather and we remained in #Solidaritywithgaza in not only the rain but also through 2 hailstorms. As many people in the crowd pointed out “Standing in the rain and hail is nothing when those we are in solidarity with are standing in rocket fire and white phosphorous”.

Friday night gaza rally

The reports and images coming through from Gaza has been heartbreaking, seeing the total death toll increase, and the death toll of children rise has been devastating. Listening to the Israeli Government called for the extermination of the Palestinian people has been enraging. The group had decided that more needed to be done to raise awareness in the community, to get the average Melbournian to know about what is happening in Gaza. It was decided that creating as many banners as possible and dropping them around Melbourne’s busiest areas would be the best choice for a snap direct action on a Saturday afternoon.

Sam Castro, one of the organizers of the action and member of WACA had this to say about why we need to have direct actions on the issue of Gaza and Palestine “Nothing can stop the tears and pain that must be flowing in GAZA and around the world for those already murdered in what can only be described as attempted genocide by the Israeli Apartheid State. But we can all resist publicly in our own little ways and in doing so remind each other of our humanity and the truth.  We can let the Palestinians known, that if nothing else we bare witness to the horror being inflicted on those in Gaza and the West Bank. In a violent world dominated by corporations and brutal Empires, we see you Gaza and we bare witness to the crimes of the Israeli State”.

For our drop we managed to make 5 banners with various slogans explaining our position and designed to get as much attention as possible. We decided to drop our largest banner from the Arts Centre wall, where it faced back to Flinders St Station so that anyone on the Princess St Bridge would be able to see it.
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We then placed 3 of the others on the pedestrian bridge between Flinders St Station and Crown Casino, from here anyone along the Princess St Bridge, exiting the back of Flinders St Station or in any of the Restaurants on South Yarra would be able to see the banners.

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Our final banner drop was at Federation Square, this banner received the most amount of positive attention as there was an action going on with the Iraqi Christians against ISIS happening at the other end of the square. Several attendees stopped to have photos with the banner in the back ground and some came and spoke to us as we dropped the banner and posed in our photos.
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The banner drops achieved their goal of informing the community about this atrocity. It was clear from the response of people on the pedestrian bridge that there is a large portion of the community that doesn’t know about Gaza and the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. However people were happy to engage on the topic and were just genuinely unaware and horrified to hear about the issue.

Keep an eye out for more direct actions to come across the city in relation to this issue, but also encourage your affinity groups to make a stand and do other direct actions on the issue if you feel strongly about Gaza and Palestine. It is clear that more needs to be done to educate people in the community, and also to continue to show the people in Gaza that we are witness to their suffering and the crimes against them and that we will continue to stand with them in solidarity.

For more details on the action please check out:

WACA facebook page

To watch a video filmed by WACA regarding the banner drop please watch:

WACA video of Banner Drop

For high resolution photos please check out:

Free Gaza album

Writen by CJ.

 

 

Street Medic Pro-Tip 34: How to document your injuries

Melbourne Activist Sam Castro sustained injuries protesting Victoria's "Anti-Protest Laws".

Melbourne Activist Sam Castro sustained injuries protesting Victoria’s “Anti-Protest Laws”.

 MelbSMC believe the best way to avoid injuries is to Be Prepared and to look out for each other. But, protest is struggle and unfortunately people will still get hurt by forces resistant to social justice & change. That is why being able to document injuries is an important skill for all activists, and especially so for groups who traditionally are singled out for acts of repression (such as people of colour, the homeless, transgender activists and even medics).

What follows are some tips on how to document these injuries:

At the protest:

  • Remember to seek medical advice as soon as possible!

 

  • Keep all evidence (bag bloody clothes to put in the freezer when you get home, save projectiles etc)

 

  • Talk to a Legal Observer who will record the time of the incident and may be able to talk to some of the witnesses.
Injured Protester

Ask a Street Medic for help. We maintain confidentiality at all times & can assess the severity of your injuries.

At the hospital or clinic:

 

  • If it is not a life-threatening injury consider visiting a GP or a clinic you trust.

 

  • Record the names of all treating doctors/ healthcare professionals who see your wound(s)

 

  • If appropriate – tell hospital staff how you were hurt.

 

  • Wounds like broken ribs, concussion or torn ligaments don’t show up when photographed so ask the medical staff to write up all your injuries in detail.

 

  • Ask for a copy of your notes, x-ray, scans (you might not be allowed them but ask anyway).

At home:

  • Take photos as soon as possible – severe injuries may heal quickly depending on your physical health and nutritional status.

 

  • Get a trusted friend to take a picture of your whole body before zooming in for detailed shots of the injured area

 

  • Stand in front of an uncluttered, neutral coloured wall.

 

  • Take images from an assortment of angles and think about who might be scrutinizing these photos at a latter date

 

  • To get perspective take photos with a ruler or something of standard size (like a coin) next to the injury.

bruisecoin

  • Use the ‘Date & Time’ tagging function on a digital camera to show the injury changing over a period of time.

 

  • Darker skin may not show up injuries so take photos in a well lit place, and be careful with a flash as this may bleach out, or reflect off the skin and make the bruising look lighter than it actually is.

 

  • Keep a diary of the injury as it heals and how it effects your quality of life.

 

  • Remember bruises will darken and grow over time.

 

  • Store all your paperwork, images and evidence in a secure place.

 

  • Keep all follow-up care or Doctor appointments!

 

  • Debrief frequently with your friends, loved ones or affinity group.

 

Cecily McMillan shows the hand-shaped bruise on her right breast, which she testified was made by NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell when he accosted her from behind.

Cecily McMillan shows the hand-shaped bruise on her right breast, which she testified was made by NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell when he accosted her from behind.

Statement from our medics

The members of MelbSMC have decided to release a statement about our positions on sexual assault in the community and Transphobia.

As a group we actively support all members of the community and therefore we will not be silent on the issue of sexual assault in our community.

We as a collective also want it known that we stand against Transphobia and providing a platform to known transphobics.

 

http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2014/06/no-platform-for-transphobia/

Street Medic Pro-Tip 33: Foreign Objects – Embedded objects

This pro-tip will show you how to treat a penetrative foreign object.

Foreign Object embedded/penetrating in the body (e.g. arms, legs, head, eye)

These will generally be in the major wound category and Medical attention will always be required, I would strongly recommend as soon as someone approaches you with an embedded object in them to either call an ambulance or get them to hospital.

***DO NOT REMOVE OR MOVE THE OBJECT***

***DO NOT PUT PRESSURE ON THE OBJECT***

We cannot see what damage has been caused internally by the object so we cannot remove it, and pressure should not be placed on it for the same reason. The only time you would consider trying to move the object by shortening it would be if the object is unmanageable in it’s current form (e.g. the person has impaled themselves on a long branch).

Follow the tips below for any embedded/penetrating object

**Creating Padding**

-Take a triangle bandage and stretch it out

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- hold onto the long ends and start to twirl it so it looks more like a rope.

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- Loosely wrap it around your hand, this will provide you with the donut shape.

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Don’t worry about how pretty it looks, it just needs to hold its shape so that we can fit it over the object and bandage it in place with one of the other bandages.

- Place the donut over the protruding object without placing pressure on the object itself

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- Using a bandage, start wrapping over the triangle bandage while avoiding direct pressure to the embedded object.

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This would be the same treatment anywhere on the body, including the eye. Be sure to seek urgent medical attention, and keep the injured person calm and still so that they don’t cause further damage to the limb. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have bandages, items of clothing or material can be substituted for the bandages shown here.

Street Medic Pro-Tip 32: Foreign Objects in Eyes and Ears

There are different types of Foreign objects that you may need to treat in the field including eyes, ears, and embedded/penetrative wounds. For this pro-tip we will cover eye and ear complaints that you may face and our next pro-tip will cover the embedded/penetrative wound treatment.

 

Foreign Object in the Eye:

Dust/Grit/Eyelash/Insect

  • Flush the eye using clean water (if you are out in the bush – best to use water from a water bottle instead of a stream or creek).
  • Tilt the head back
  • Rinse the eye (use a sport water bottle with a push top or an eye drop bottle).

If there is an object that is protruding out of the eye (e.g. glass or a stick) please refer to our next pro-tip on how to treat it.

 

Chemical Burn

If a chemical has been introduced to the eye it should be treated as a serious medical problem.

  • Remove any contact lenses (these will hold the chemical in and cause greater problems if they are not removed quickly)
  • Rinse with flowing water for 15 -20 minutes.
  • Cover the eye with a patch
  • Seek further medical assistance, pain is not an indicator of damage with eyes unfortunately, so it is best to seek immediate medical support for any chemical burns. Be sure to find out what chemical it was that they got in their eyes as this may effect the treatment they receive.

 

Pepper Spray

In the event of pepper spray be sure to flush the eyes thoroughly if available use LAW mix (50% Liquid antacid and 50% Water) as it has been shown to be more effective than other treatments such as water and milk.

  • Get the person to lay down/lean back
  • Ask them to remove any contacts they may be wearing as this traps the pepper spray
  • Rinse their face first quickly with water to remove residue that may be sweated/rubbed back into the eyes after treatment
  • Using a spray bottle/sports bottle flush the eye from the tear duct outwards. You may need to hold their eyes open for them.
  • If using LAW mix be sure to advise the person that they will only see whiteness for 30seconds and then their vision should return.

Street Medics of Tahir treating Pepperspray http://m4t.wikidot.com/contrib:en-law

 

Foreign Objects in the Ear:

Insect

If you find that an insect has gone into your ear DO NOT try to pull it out with tweezers or stick your finger in your ear. As it is an unknown insect you do not want to make it sting/bite you.

  • Turn the head so that the ear with the insect in it is facing upwards

**If the insect doesn’t leave itself at this point in time**

  • Pour some (warm if possible) oil into the ear (if oil isn’t available you can try to this with water), this should cause the insect to float out of the ear.

***If the insect does not come out of the ear once it has been flushed with the oil, seek medical attention***

 

Object in the Ear

If the object is in the outer canal (protruding from the ear) you may try to remove the object with Tweezers (do not use your fingers)

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If the object is a fair way into the ear, or the depth of the object is unknown, seek medical attention before trying to remove the object.

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Waging Peace on War

Melbourne Street Medic Collective are Record Breakers!

On April 23rd, 2014, MSMC were part of the Wage Peace Convoy which hustled through the crowded streets of Canberra and broke the world record for most protests in one day.

The Canberra Peace Convergence was a call to peaceful arms by IPAN (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network) for all peace activists to gather at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The First Nation people called upon their allies to come stand with them on Anzac Day. They planned on marching unto the Canberra war memorial to demand the memory of their ancestors -whom perished in the Frontier Wars of Australia’s genesis- no longer be ignored.

What happened on that fateful Anzac Day is the tale for our next blog post, suffice to say the history of white men profiteering from acts of genocide and illegal wars continues to this day. The interconnectedness of big business & government with the war machine was what the Waging Peace Convoy had in its sights

The Wage Peace Convoy consisted of a coalition of ‪ affinity groups, such as WACA (Whistleblowers, Activists & Citizen’s Alliance), The Renegade Activists, Christian Anarchists, Peace Pilgrims and many more.

An affinity group is a set of people who share the same idea. Trust is key for an affinity group. Trust & being able to work together. What follows is a story of how Affinity Groups sharing the same goal can accomplish anything!

So are you & a group of friends incensed by illegal wars being fought in your name? Are you sickened by corporations buying your democracy to make a profit off innocent lives?

If so think about this: the likelihood of an arms dealer, missile maker, lobby group or surveillance merchant having a shop front in your city is very high. These companies hide in plain sight. They use the mundanity of their shop fronts to profit from wars.

So do you think your affinity group could also expose these companies & have a crack at beating our record at the same time?

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Protest #1: The Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Since 1972 Aboriginal activists have occupied the grounds of Parliament. We joined them as the sun rose for a poignant reminder of the 200 years of war (physical, economic & spiritual) the First People of this land have endured.

 

Protest 02: Old Parliament House

We bore witness to the eternal absence of democracy within this relic of a building. Real democracy is not something to be purchased & spun but belongs out on the streets with the people. Senator Scott Ludlam said it best:

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Protest 03: Lockheed Martin

No corporations profits more from perpetual global warfare than Lockheed Martin. They are the world’s largest weapons manufacturer & instrumental in propagating these wars by influencing foreign policy through the use of lobbyists, political campaigns and mass media control

 

Protest 04:  Raytheon

The global arms’ company that brought you cluster bombs & Tomahawk missiles. Their weaponry is being used on – civilian – populations all around the world.

 Protest 05: K.B.R.2014-04-24 08.35.00

From building military bases to ‘investing’ in post-war reconstruction KBR profit from each and every aspect of war. This private contractor has received U.S. military contracts for WWII, Vietnam, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

Protest 06: Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)

What better place to protest war than on a military base! ADFA is where young people are trained to kill and not to question authority.

2014-04-24 09.47.31Protest 07: Department of Defence

The Department of Defence the Bureaucrats of Evil: complicit in US geopolitical strategy. Illegal wars, mass surveillance, illegal drone strike programs, assassinations, torture and now the persecution of Asylum Seekers, the DoD is busy smearing your tax dollars in blood.

 

Protest 08: Defence Signals Directorate

You can learn the horrible truth about Canberra’s “Big Eagle on a stick” by watching this video:

Protest 09: ASIO

2014-04-24 10.39.58One of the most normal office blocks in the country. The car park is full of normal sedans and hatchbacks, customised plates and standard commuter motorcycles. Office workers having smoko out the front and a children’s playgroup and playground by the side of the building.

The only difference is that this is the building in which the government monitors and disrupts the lives of normal Australians: Trade Unionists, activists, Muslims, anyone that is deemed a threat or a potential source of use.

And here’s the kicker: ASIO has a long history of seeking out ex-soldiers, patriots and good-minded fellows to work for them, spy and gather intelligence on normal people but, when crunch time has hit, has then left their assets alone and abandoned. The recent TV series “Persons of Interest” had a number of stories from ex-ASIO operatives who described the ultimate feeling of isolation from friends and family and disconnection from wider society as they couldn’t establish real friendships.

If this is what they do to their own people, what do they do to their enemies?

by Zoidberg

2014-04-24 11.06.02Protest 10: Australian Strategic Policy Institute

ASPI claims to be a “non-partisan” Think-Tank that advises the Australian military & gouvernment. It is so “non-partisan” that it is is sponsored by: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, SERCO & Transfield to name but a few from our war profiteers rogue gallery!

 

 

To Be Continued …

 

 

 

 

Vanstone’s Sham Solution: “Let the sick die!”

The issue of whether long time care and life support for terminal patients is tantamount to torture or not is a delicate, complicated and as yet unresolved question in medicine.

Yet one cannot feel that former Senator Amanda Vanstone’s (Immigration Minister during the Howard years) suggestion that elderly and/or terminal patients seek advanced medical directives to cease treatment because of the savings that could be made and reinvested into the health sector are misguided and a tricksy form of support for Abbott’s health cuts.

In her column, she poses the question: “irrespective of your age, what [do] you think is reasonable to expect as free medication that would keep you going in a reasonable condition if you had a terminal diagnosis?” Her point is that people who want free access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care a year should just “face the inevitable”, do us all a favour and die. As her article ostensibly focuses on the elderly and cites financial figures that would make most people wince: especially those whose only exposure to the cost of healthcare is rising private health insurance premiums and memes about ridiculously overpriced American medical care.

What Vanstone has failed to mention is that there are many Australians who suffer long-term, debilitating, life-threatening and/or terminal illnesses who are not elderly and that while the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and private health insurance (for those who have good coverage) can go a long way the cost of healthcare in Australian can be crippling in itself. The issue of how much funding a person should receive for medical care should not centre around whether it is a fruitful investment. Governments have a responsibility to ensure that every person, regardless of age, illness, sexuality or race should have adequate and appropriate access to medical care.

This is a sly development in the continuing efforts to dismantle public and affordable healthcare in Australia and to destroy the living conditions that have been fought for over the last 150 years. Shortly before Vanstone urged the elderly and infirm to hurry up and die (quoting one “senior medical professional” who argues that all Australians over the age of 73 should have an Advanced Medical Directive or else lose access to Medicare entirely), an Abbott government Minister excused the raising of the pension age to 70 by saying that workers are now living too long and that having a retirement age that permits workers to actually retire (as opposed to dying at work or having to retire due to disability or impairment) is contrary to the intent of the original pension scheme. Together, Vanstone and the other MP want to create a situation where workers will have to work until well into old age and then be forced to sign a death warrant to retain access to public healthcare. This is if they can even afford access to public healthcare, with moves to introduce co-payments for GP visits and even emergency care to curb a non-existent but apparently potent moral threat from healthcare abusers.

Medical care for terminal and long-term illness sufferers can be debilitating, disturbing and at times even torturous. The medical community needs to find a more compassionate and caring solution to this problem and accept that euthanasia or the withholding of care from those patients for whom it will cause extra suffering should be considered. But this problem is not a window of opportunity for capitalists who wish to strip public healthcare to the bone and ultimately leave the wider community more exposed to illness and suffering. To them, the suffering of the ill is an inconvenience and an expensive one at that. We should look for a more holistic and caring solution that preserves the right for all people to receive medical care regardless of age, illness, sexuality or race.

Amanda Vanstone’s column was originally published by Fairfax and can be read here.

 

JZ

Mandatory Training and Marginalisation

Over the last few years a number of American state legislatures have acted to require high school students to undertake cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in order to graduate. Currently, Vermont, Virginia, Iowa, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama require students to obtain CPR certification and, come September when the new school year starts, they will be joined by Washington, Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas and Texas. With the American Heart Foundation reporting nearly 360,000 Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrests in 2013 (down from nearly 383,000 in 2012) there is a clear need to maximise the number of people who are able and willing to provide CPR assistance in an emergency.

In Germany and Switzerland it is necessary to obtain first aid certification when applying for a driver’s licence. In 2008, the EU Red Cross wrote to the European Commission [PDF] to recommend that first aid certification be made a mandatory requirement for all applicants for the European driver’s licence with re-certification to be undertaken every five years so that skills and knowledge could be kept current. In making this recommendation, the EU Red Cross produced strong arguments: they state that up to 85% of “preventable pre-hospital deaths” occur as a result of airway obstruction causing asphyxia before the arrival of emergency services and 57% of deaths occur within minutes of the initial crash. Clearly, having bystanders who are willing, able and equipped to provide assistance would lead to a reduction in deaths from road accidents. As they, somewhat bluntly, say:

Imagine a victim with severe bleeding following a road accident. If nobody applies pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding, even the most sophisticated or the quickest emergency service in the world will only arrive on the scene to certify death.

Mandatory training schemes are all well and good where adequate resources are available and flexibility and fairness can be assured. However, amongst marginalised communities these conditions are not guaranteed. In school districts where funding is tight, mandatory training may be a considerable burden even if additional funding is granted to cover the programme. It is often large, peak-body groups such as the American Heart Foundation or the Red Cross (or in Australia the Red Cross and St John) that are approved to provide training for education departments and while this does impart a certain guarantee of quality upon the programme the costs are often far and above what poor individuals and communities are able to afford. This becomes a problem when students miss organised training sessions due to work, family or health commitments/concerns or else are left behind because trainers are unable (or even unwilling) to cater to students with different literacy, language and physical requirements. The kid who misses a training session because they have to go to work or look after a family member may be in that situation because a parent or caregiver has been incapacitated by an injury or illness or else because the family income is very low: ironically and unfortunately, these are likely the kids who would benefit most from the training as they may be more likely to find themselves in a situation where CPR or first aid is needed.

If individuals or communities want to organise their own (unaccredited) training they face a major barrier in the prohibitive cost of training, equipment and supplies or else may have to choose to compromise on capacity and/or equipment to ensure at least something is available. Marginalisation, whether at the level of the individual or the community, is a vicious cycle. In the case of mandatory CPR training in high schools we should recognise that this is a sector already under attack, financially and culturally (such as through the undermining of scientific and rational education, censorship, entrenchment of privilege and campaigns to busty public sector unionisation) and that for marginalisation to be properly addressed there needs to be a profound and systemic overhaul of society, not just particular education departments and school districts.

In the meantime, there is a lot that can be done in the community to ensure that everyone has a good chance to receive, and provide, first aid and CPR. After all, as the EU Red Cross says, first aid is an act of humanity and a key responsibility of global citizenship so we should try to make sure access is universal. Street medics play an important role in this by “liberating” medical knowledge and skills and empowering the community to take its health into its own hands. Perhaps the most potent illustration of this was Occupy Sandy, an exercise in mutual aid put into effect by street medics in New York who provided medical and emotional support to survivors of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This was a comprehensive, holistic and effective response to calamity and one episode amongst many of street medics providing care during crisis. Street medics across the world have also trained activists and marginalised communities in medical self-defence or provided clinical support where the state could not – or actively would not – provide help. It was actually with this in mind that street medicine came into creation: when the Medical Committee for Human Rights visited Tennessee in the early 1960s they witnessed first hand the effects of racist medical systems that deliberately excluded black patients. After seeing people die waiting for acute medical services because they had the wrong coloured skin, these medical professionals worked with black communities to create free clinics, health and education programs and brought wellness to people who the state refused to believe were human.

With regards to mandatory training schemes, street medics could help by helping to ensure that all communities have fair and reasonable access to CPR and first aid training, even if they are unable to accredit those people directly to the state’s requirements. They can also provide a context to ensure that CPR and first aid is relevant to these people and their situations so that there is an active engagement in ensuring communal well-being. Finally, by enacting a radical and holistic approach to healthcare, medics and the community will have a role to play in combating the wider iniquities and inequalities of capitalist society.

JZ.

 

Street Medic Pro-Tip 31: Constricting ring removal

You’re shoved to the pavement at a protest. You try to get back up but a cherry-red DM accidentally steps on your pinkies.

On a picket an over zealous police person grabs your hand to break the line.

A politically neutral bee stings you as you try to swot it from your face.

 gollum-n-the-ringA swollen finger is a perfectly normal body response to any of the above situations, but a tight fitting ring could cause all manner of problems. Constricting rings can lead to more intense swelling, poor lymphatic drainage, and even total loss of circulation to the poor affected digit.

Street Medics don’t as a rule carry ring cutters. That said, we appreciate that you’re attached to both your finger and your ring. That is why we’re keen to get that band of unyielding metal off your pinky as soon as possible.

Some things we as Street Medics might do as to help are:

-Apply ice and elevate asking you to hold your hand above your heart.

-We might lube your finger up (real good) with soap & water and ask you to twist the ring off yourself.

-If we suspect a fracture suggest you go to the Emergency Department and get an X-ray. In ED they are more likely to take an orthopaedic ring cutting device to your beloved ring.

-But, back in the field there’s also a near magical way of removing a ring using only a piece of string and it looks like this:  (Though, this method does require a bit of practice.)

And remember, street medics really do care about blood perfusion to your fingers and thumbs. That is why, if we have any doubts suggest you remove the ring straight away. We NEVER remove people’s rings without consent, but if you are insistent you won’t remove the ring, we will politely & non-judgmentally explain we are worried about tissue and nerve damage to the digit.

After the accident and up to 24 hours later,  look out for changes in the fingers’ colour, temperature & sensation. If the finger turns pale or blue, gets cold or painful, see a medical practitioner as soon as possible.

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