Photograph shared by Jimmy Yan on the Facebook Event page


Photograph shared by Jimmy Yan on the Facebook Event page

On Sunday the 21st of October, Melbourne FACT attended the ‘No To Offshore Processing’ rally. There were 5 FACToids in attendance to keep an eye on the crowd and make sure everyone at the action stayed safe. The action started at 1pm outside the State Library of Victoria with speeches from Adam Bandt (Greens Deputy Leader), Theo Mackaay (Victorian Council of Churches), Michelle O’Neil (Victorian State Secretary, Textile Clothing & Footwear Union). A speech was also made by a Tamil man who had come to Australia seeking asylum as an unaccompanied child and had been processed in a detention center at the age of 13. His speech was extremely emotional as he detailed the atrocities that he had seen, including witnessing the death of his brother at the hands of the Sri Lankan Military Forces. “Why is the life of a child from another nation worth any less?” was a question he posed to the audience that was received with silent nodding as it clearly resonated with the rest of the protesters.

Sri Lankan refugee speaks of his experiences

According to news reports at its peak the action had 300 protesters present.  The March left from the State Library and headed down Swanston St. The march gained a lot of attention from on-lookers with several hecklers, however the group remained undeterred and continued to march and chant. The march ended at the Princess Bridge where the protesters sat down in Solidarity with those currently in detention and offshore processing centers.

Sitting on the Bridge at the end of the March

Sitting on the Bridge at the end of the March

If you want to be a part of the next Refugee action there is going to be a ‘Welcome the Refugees’ Barbecue and Festival on the 6th of November 2012 (Melbourne Cup day) from 1pm at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre – 53 Hampstead Rd, Maribyrnong.

Follow the link below for more details:

Reclaim the night

Reclaim the Night has been running in Australia since 1978 and has been a march for Women to stand up to oppression, sexual assault, rape, victim blaming and all forms of violence. It has been a global event since the 1970s when women across the world took a stand against the crimes that were being committed against women in their local communities.

On the 20th of October this year Melbourne FACT took to Sydney Road in Brunswick to make sure the women and men reclaiming the streets could do so safely.

When we arrived at the corner of Barkley St and Sydney Road at about 6:45pm there was already a small group amassing in front of the ute that was being used to hold the sound system and as a platform for the speakers. When Melbourne FACT attends a rally we split into small groups of two or three street medics – our buddy teams. As a sign of respect to the attendees we divided into pairs that had both a male and female first aider (except for one group which was female only as we were going to walk up the front in the women only section). We felt that this was important as the emotions on the night were likely to be high and the nature of the action meant that female attendees may have felt uncomfortable approaching a male first aider for help.

The speeches started at 7pm and Melbourne FACT moved to our set locations to watch the crowd as more and more people joined the crowd on the road. There were 3 speakers who shared their views on the plight of women and the injustices that have plagued victims in the past (and still do) and discussed what they believed needed to happen in the future to change the issues facing women. Their speeches engaged the crowd and apart from one heckler the speeches went on without any issues and built up an incredible energy in the crowd.

At 7:45pm the MC for the night explained that the main banner was moving out onto the road and directly behind them there would be a women’s only section. By this point in time the crowd had swelled and the Lane heading toward Coburg on Sydney Road was closed by the police. As I was part of the group up the front it was great to see the women’s only section walking together and it was heart warming to know that there were groups of men and children in the section behind us walking in solidarity with the women. As we walked down Sydney Road we did not suffer any heckling or jeering, the local community responded passionately, many people honked their horn in support and people in local eateries cheering us on from the sidewalks.

By the time we had reached the finishing point of the march at the corner of Sparta Place and Sydney Road there were between 4,000 and 6,000 marching to reclaim the night. Some even suggested that there were 4,000 women marching and 2,000 men walking with them in solidarity. Either way the numbers were far greater than had been expected by the organisers and meant that for a period of time the crowd  shut down an entire block and declared their intent to oppose violence in all its forms and to reclaim the night with chants and drum banging.


The march was highly successful with more attendees than expected and some news sources even stating that it was the largest Reclaim the Night to have happened in decades – hopefully with such high attendance and coverage in the main stream media these issues will start being faced by the greater public and cause social change.

We would like to thank the Organisers for arranging the march and for inviting MelbFACT to work with them.


 “Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning.”

Occupy Melbourne: Day 3

An untold story from  Melbourne Street Medic Collective early history is contained within the pages of the Occupy Melbourne Reflects Journal (click here for the FREE DOWNLOAD)

The Occupy Movement sought to bring together a diversity of voices. In June 2012, some of those voices answered a call to contribute to the Occupy Melbourne Reflects project. The resulting stories are a snap shot of opinions and reflections upon the events of the preceding tumultuous 9 months.

This collection of thoughts, analysis and stories offer a valuable  resource because so much of the Occupy Story played out on social networks where considered perspectives were often lost in a cacophony and where reflection is all but impossible to practice. And lessons must be learned if activists and social movements are to flourish. A life-changing convergence like Occupy offers valuable insights into where to go next with our struggle against the policy’s of the 1%.Some of those lessons may very well be preserved within this zine as a lasting legacy on how Occupy played out in Australia.

The MelbFACT story is called: THE SECRET ORIGIN OF AN AFFINITY GROUP and can be found on Page 25 of the journal.


 The opening quote is from: ^ Boud D, Keogh R and Walker D (1985) Reflection, Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge. ISBN 0-85038-864-3p. 19

Panic Attack 01

It’s natural to experience anxiety in large protesting crowds or panic when confronted by heavy handed police tactics. If those feelings are accompanied with the following symptoms, a protester may be experiencing a panic attack:


Palpitations, pounding heart, or rapid heart rate;


Trembling and shaking;

Shortness of breath, sensations of choking or smothering;Panic Attack 02

Chest pain or discomfort;

Abdominal distress or nausea;

Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or unsteady;

Feelings of unreality or being detached;

Fears of losing control or going crazy;

Fear of dying;

Numbness or tingling;

Chills or hot flushes.

If you suspect someone is having a Panic Attack:

  1. Introduce yourself.

  2. Ask the protester if they have ever had a panic attack before. If they reply “yes” and they believe they are having one now, ask them if they need help.

  3. Speak in a reassuring but firm manner. Don’t make assumptions and don’t belittle their experience.

  4. Acknowledge their terror but reassure them that panic attacks are not life threatening & the symptoms will pass.

  5. Ask directly what they need. Ask if they would like to remove themselves from the protest.

  6. After the panic attack has subsided ask if the person knows how to access health-care services for help.

Be aware: The symptoms of a panic sometimes resemble an asthma attack or even heart attack. If the person has not had a panic attack before – and doesn’t think they are having one now – call an ambulance.





Arrested Occupy Wall Street activist being given an inhaler

An ASTHMA ATTACK is the sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of airways in the lungs. When protesting activists come into contact with a number of triggers that could potentially trigger an asthma attack:

• Exercise (especially on long intense marches)
• Cigarette smoke (often around the perimeter of out door meetings)
• Cold air
• Chemical irritants (from OS spray or tear gas)
• Dust and pollen
• Chest infections (from long term over night Occupying)
• Stress

When performing your street medic assessment look for:

• Unable to talk in uninterrupted sentences.
• Persistent coughing
• Increased rate of breathing
• Chest pain
• Tightened neck and chest muscles
• Feelings of anxiety or panic

• Pale, sweaty face

• Wheezing (there’s no need to carry a stethoscope on a protest: you can hear lung sounds with the naked ear cupped against your patient’s chest or back)

• BUT just because you can’t hear wheezing doesn’t mean your patient is better. A”silent chest” occurs when the airways are so tight not enough air can enter the lungs to make a sound. This is a medical emergency!

• Blue lips or fingernails are a VERY late and dangerous sign. Call an ambulance immediately.


  • Remove the activist from any obvious environmental triggers (pollen, dust, smoke, tear gas).
  • Ask them: “what usually triggers your asthma“?
  • Positioning: sitting or kneeling, leaning slightly forward, with their weight supported on their hands on knees (the tripod position) relieves the pressure on the chest and opens up the bases of the lungs making breathing easier.
  • Keep calm and speak gently. Try to get the casualty to match their breathing with yours.
  • The first line of asthma management remains the control of asthma symptoms so assist the casualty in taking their medications,
  • Drinking cups of room-temperature water in steady succession may relieve symptoms in the absence of an inhaler.



Ankle injuries are a common injury on demonstrations & marches.

The old adage: “if you can move it it’s not broken” is WRONG. Unless it is displaced an ankle cannot be assessed as broken just by looking at it. Treat all swelling and pain with: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) until cleared by a clinician.

• R: Stop marching and use a non-weight bearing technique (maybe use another protester as support or improvise a crutch from an sign) to transfer to a 19396safe location to Rest & assess the ankle.

• I: Reduce the swelling with an Ice pack from a street medic’s first aid kit. Apply on and off for 15 minutes before moving onto C. Don’t apply heat and be careful applying ice directly to the skin. Remove if the pulse to the affected foot is reduced, or if the toes change colour compared to the uneffected foot.

• C: Compress & support the area with an elastic dressing. The compression must be firm but not too tight. It must not effect the blood circulation. An elasticated bandage from the toes to the middle of the lower leg is best.

• E: Elevate when in a safe place.

For the first 72 hours after an ankle sprain avoid H.A.R.M.:

• Heat: hot baths, saunas or heat packs may increase swelling.

• Alcohol: drinking alcohol will increase bleeding and swelling and decrease healing.

• Running: could cause more damage.

• Massage: which may stimulate further swelling and pain.


Australia is currently facing hot, dry and windy conditions (as represented by the map above) so it is important for your own safety that you ensure you are taking steps to prevent the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Sunburn
  • Heat Cramps
  • Heat syncope/fainting
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat Stroke (can potentially be fatal)

To prevent yourself suffering from any of the above injuries/illnesses associated to heat please take the following steps and precautions. If you fall into a high risk category please attempt to avoid the heat as much as possible as the following preventative steps may not be sufficient.(High Risk Category includes: Children, Elderly people, Pregnant women, on certain medications/suffering from medical conditions and previously had a heat related illness).

  • Hydration (Pre-hydrate yourself before going out into the heat and remain hydrated once outside)
  • Get plenty of sleep (This will help your body perform at its best)
  • Wear Loose fitting but skin covering clothes (this will help with the ‘evaporation process’ for your sweat and help prevent sunburn)
  • Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap (for those who haven’t heard of this it stands for: Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses)
  • Prepare for the weather, check forecasts and act accordingly before leaving the house.
  • Use wet bandanas or materials to cool yourself
  • Stay out of the heat (and in particular the sun) where ever possible. if you cannot afford air conditioning or your house hasn’t got it go to your local shopping center, library or cafe which has got A/C.

Try to avoid the following as they increase your risk of a heat related illness:

  • Drinks containing Caffeine & Alcohol
  • Drugs (e.g. Cocaine, LSD, etc)
  • Being in a large crowd (Being surrounded by other hot bodies doesn’t allow your body a chance to cool down)
  • Physical activity outside (Playing sports or performing manual tasks in the heat cause dehydration and potentially heat exhaustion)

For more details on any of this please check out this PDF by the BALM Squad (Boston Area Liberation Medics)

Street Medic enough actions and your kit becomes an extension of you. A familiar & reliable friend your first-aid kit will become a reflection of the way you practice Street Medicine and the needs of your protest community.

The following list is far from comprehensive, but suggests the bare bones of a good starter kit:

  • Minimum of 2 pairs of SURGICAL GLOVES (non-allergenic to avoid triggering latex allergies) Surgical 2014-08-01 17.29.32gloves for the casualty’s benefit and a barrier for the street medic’s benefit

  • ADHESIVE TAPE is probably the most versatile of all first aid kit supplies. Use it to hold gauze in place or to help splint broken bones. Also useful to cover blisters. Small strips of tape can be used to hold lacerations together until the casualty can get stitches.

  • ELASTIC BANDAGES help support sprains and to splint broken bones.

  • STERILE GAUZE to stop bleeding and to use in eye irrigation of chemical agents

  • TRIANGLE BANDAGES are non-stretch bandages used to hold gauze in place or to help splint broken bones. Also useful as slings and to dress head wounds.

  • Pack of WETWIPES


  • PLASTERS in a variety of sizes. Use to cover small lacerations and abrasions. Always clean the wound before you apply an adhesive plaster.

  • JELLY BEANS for hypoglycaemic casualties

  • SALINE SOLUTION to irrigate wounds and eyes

  • LAW SPRAY: 50/50 mix of water and Mylanta (or similar antacid liquid) in a bottle or aerosol can to use to denominate & reduce painful effects of pepper spray & tear gas.

For rally organizers in and around Melbourne one of our Street Medics suggests your first-aiders have:

A small first-aid kit purchased from the chemist ($10-15) with the following additions:
4 – 10 ice packs from the Reject Shop
2 – 4 heavy-weight/compression bandages
1L of water in addition to 2L for self
Rehydration tablets
Jelly beans, sunburst or similar soft sweet lollies
Cloth or other non-latex bandaid packs
3 or more saline eyewash vials
Extra nitrile gloves

These will cover heat illness, sprained ankles and wrists, broken limbs, diabetic emergencies and people tripping over and grazing themselves on big marches and rallies.

According to F.S. Haddad, in the British Medical Journal article, “Complaints of pain after use of handcuffs should not be dismissed.” Numbness, tingling (“pins & needles”) and even severe pain can occur after short periods of hand-cuff restraint and could be due to nerve damage.

Pain and altered sensation when cuffed is generally due to superficial nerve damage that usually disappears upon release. If the nerve is bruised function should return in days, but if the nerve needs to regenerate then total healing could take two months.

Paresthesia, is a sensation of tingling, tickling, prickling, or burning of a person's skin.

Paresthesia, is a sensation of tingling, tickling, prickling, or burning of a person’s skin.

What you can do to protect yourself from nerve damage:

When handcuffs are applied to a struggling person, the cuffs can become too tight around the wrist. Police are instructed not to remove or adjust handcuffs until in a “safe and controlled environment” so they may chose not to respond to requests to “loosen cuffs”. However, you can ask to have the cuffs “double-locked” which prevents them from ratcheting tighter.

.Aftercare: Always see a medical practitioner if symptoms persist – especially if spinal injury may be involved (from a fall or police kneeling on your back) or if the handcuffing was particularly violent.


 Haddad, FS. “Complaints of Pain after Use of Handcuffs Should Not Be Dismissed.” British Medical Journal 318.7175 (1999)


Occupy Melbourne Eviction Day 21/10/11: street medics in hi-vis vests.

Large crowds can be deadly. Pushing, shoving, pepper spray, police horses and other perceived threats can create a ripple effect through a crowd resulting in mass panic as the crowd surges forward. Crush injuries through trampling are common but the most deadly is suffocation, with more people dying standing up than from trampling.

Keep in mind these risks and be prepared.

Buy yourself as much personal space as you can by keeping your arms at your side, bending your elbows and pushing out. People suffocate if they can't expand their lungs.

Buy yourself as much personal space as you can by keeping your arms at your side, bending your elbows and pushing out. People suffocate if they can’t expand their lungs.

•Wear comfortable, closed toed shoes. Double tie your laces to prevent tripping.

•Avoid wearing dangly jewelry, scarves and neckties, as they may get tangled or pulled.

•Don’t go alone. Bring a buddy!

If things get risky:

•DON’T STAND STILL OR SIT DOWN! Keep moving in the direction of the crowd and slowly work your way diagonally across the crowd, toward the outside where the flow is weaker.

•Buy yourself as much personal space as you can by keeping your arms at your side, bending your elbows and pushing out.

•Don’t stop or stand near temporary structures, which could collapse under the weight of a crowd.

•If you drop something, don’t try to pick it up. Bending or getting your fingers stepped on or trapped will increase your risk of being pushed to the ground. Let it go and keep moving!

•If you fall or are pushed down, try to get back to your feet as quickly as possible. If someone is willing and able, extend an arm and ask for help getting back on your feet.

•If you can’t get up, keep moving! Crawl in the direction of the crowd until you can get back up.

•If you cannot get up at all, curl up in a ball to create an air pocket and cover your head. Keep your back facing up, protecting your head and face with your hands and arms.

•Crowds tend to surge or pulse. Wait until a lull in the pressure or flow to try to get back to your feet.