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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.