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It is estimated there are over 30,000 asylum-seekers currently in mandatory detention, or living in the community, who could be deported at any time. The Australian government has no qualms forcefully deporting refugees displaced by wars (in which Australia is partially complicit) back to imprisonment, torture and even death. 2015 has seen a marked rise in deportations and an upswing in Refugee Rights Advocates taking to the streets, the airports and the detention centres in resistance to this cruel policy.

What follows is intended as a LIVING (that is evolving) blog-post to help welcome people new to anti-deportation actions and make us all feel bolder and safer.

So, it you want to get involved and don’t know where to start … you’ve come to the right place!

1: JOIN A PHONE TREE: The Beyond Borders phone tree is particularly responsive. Drop them an email at beyondborderscollective@gmail.com and include your nickname, mobile number, suburb (for carpools) and any additional skills or resources you might be able to bring to the mix.

It also helps to have your name on more than one phone tree, just in case one isn’t functioning at any given time, so also get your name down on the Refugee Action Collective’s list which lives here: http://rac-vic.org/subscribe/

2: PRE-PACK AN ACTION BAG: We never know when the government will trigger a deportation but we can always be prepared. Stuff a small bag with handy items (light weight weather proof clothing, low GI snacks, bottle of water, a torch and any medications you might need) and perch it near your door so you can grab it and be gone in a flash.

3: BUDDY UP: We’re big fans of the Buddy System in the Melbourne Street Medic Collective! We believe there is no safer way to protest … so spare five minute to check out this pro-tip. Also, if you have a whole bunch of friends who want to get involved in helping stop forced deportations maybe you could form an Affinity Group?

4: CAR SHARE: if you drive perhaps consider joining the aforementioned car-pool, or arrange with your friends to pick them up. It’s a good idea to plan the best route to the airport, and Maribyrnong and Broadmeadows detention centres before you leave.

5: SAY “HI”: When you arrive at the protest you are under no obligation to tell us who you are, but it certainly is nice and helps build camaraderie and teamwork if you know the nickname of the person you are standing shoulder to shoulder with on a picket line. We’re a friendly and welcoming bunch and will happily take the time to tell you what is going and to point out who is doing Police Liaison, Media, Legal Observing and Medicking for the action.

6: BRING YOUR SKILLS: You are not just another face in a crowd or simply another set of hands to hold a placard. We all bring something unique and excellent to a protest so have a think about what you could lend to the action. Are you super-hot on Social Media? Are you in a position to bring thermos flasks of comforting warm soup to cheer protesters on the gates at 4am? Are you magic on a mountain bike and happy to help out as scout for the day?

7: DEBRIEF: Always take time after an anti-deportation action to debrief. You are human and it is perfectly acceptable to be moved by the inhumanity of a system that is processing refugees in such a callous, industrial manner. After all, it is your empathy that compelled you to take a stand in the first place. Debriefing helps make sense of challenging experiences, and also helps us learn lessons so we can be even better at what we do at the next protest. You can always debrief with one of our Street Medics if you see us around, if not grab a coffee with a bunch of mates and talk about how you are feeling and how the action was for you. Check out our pro-tip about Debriefing if you’d like to learn more.

8: SLEEP: Sometimes we only get a few hours notice before a deportation takes place. The call could go out in the dark of night or in the cold hours of the morning. Whenever it happens we need to be sharp and be on our best game. Sleep deprivation is accumulative and leads to poor judgement, mood swings and slow reflexes, so when you get the chance to lie-in or go to bed early – give yourself permission to do so! That way you will have some sleep in the bank for when you need it.

Anyway, this post is intended as a welcome to those who wish to take a stand for refugee rights, and we hope it inspires others to join the movement against forced deportations. It is not exhaustive so please, don’t be bashful about leaving a constructive Comment below and contribute to our shared learning and objectives.

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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.

 

Good Sam

Hypothetical:

You’re at an action and someone gets a major bump from a riot horse. You rush to attend and despite how ugly the bump looked the victim seems fine. You examine the him and come to the conclusion that he’s a lucky chap and advice him to sit out for the remainder of the action. He leaves alone and the rest of the action is pretty uneventful.

A few days later you find out that your patient died from an intracranial bleed that resulted from that “bump”.

The Bad news:

You made a mistake and somebody died.  You’ve failed the patient, the movement and yourself.  As a medic there is no worse outcome possible.

The Good news:

You’re only human and all anyone can expect of you is that your principles are just and compassionate, your integrity is sound and you’ve done the best your capable of .

Furthermore not a single volunteer first responder has been successfully charged or sued in Australia and there are very clear laws in every state and territory designed to protect you.  These are called Good Samaritian Laws.

Good Samaritan Laws:

Basically a Good Samaritan is any person [Health care professional or not] who provides assistance, care of advice to another person in an accident or emergency situation that threatens to cause death or injury and expects no compensation.

Each state and territory has its own legislation and they do vary but they all basically protect Good Samaritans from civil liability for any actions they do or do not perform.  Below is a nice little table comparing the various state laws updated from a nice little Australian Family Physician article.

Legislation Protection Exclusion from protection
ACT

Civil Law (Wrongs) Act, 2002

Honestly and without recklessness

Liability falls within ambit of a scheme of compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance

Capacity to exercise appropriate care and skill was significantly impaired by a recreational drug

NSW

Civil Liability Act, 2002

In good faith

If the Good Samaritan’s intentional or negligent act or omission caused the injury or risk of injuryAbility to exercise reasonable care and skill was significantly impaired by being under the influence of alcohol or a drug voluntary consumed Failed to exercise reasonable care and skill
NT

Personal Injuries (Liabilities

and Damages) Act, 2003

In good faith and without recklessness

Intoxicated while giving the assistance or advice

QLD

Law Reform Act, 1995

In good faith and without gross negligence  Nil
SA

Civil Liability Act, 1936

In good faith and without recklessness

Liability falls within ambit of a scheme of compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance. Capacity to exercise due care and skill was significantly impaired by alcohol or another recreational drug.
TAS Civil Liability Act, 2002 Even if emergency or accident was caused by an act or omission of the Good Samaritan Ability to exercise reasonable care and skill was significantly impaired by being under the influence of alcohol or a drug voluntary consumed.Failed to exercise reasonable care and skill.
Impersonating a health care or emergency services worker or a police officer or is otherwise falsely representing that the person has skills or expertise in connection with the rendering of emergency assistance.
VIC

Wrongs Act, 1958

In good faith even if emergency or accident was caused by an act or omission of the Good Samaritan  Nil
WA

Civil Liability Act, 2002

In good faith and without recklessness

Ability to exercise reasonable care and skill was significantly impaired by being intoxicated by alcohol or a drug or other substance and intoxication was self induced

With that said however the law is unclear regarding when a Good Samaritan can withdraw treatment, it is safest and most ethical to continue to attend to your patient until a suitable reliever is present, you are in danger, unable to continue or the patient had injuries incompatible with life.

Important final note:

I am not a lawyer and this article is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice.  Below are links to relevant articles and the relevant legislation.

Links:

Good Samaritans (2008) Australian Family Physician, Vol 37, No. 7

Press release: Current laws protect good Samaritans using CPR (2012) Slater and Gordon Website

Protecting Volunteers (2003) The Australian Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol 18, No 4

Legal liabilities for assistance and lack of assistance rendered by good Samaritans and volunteers (2004)  Resuscitation council of Australian Report

 

 

Please Note: This Pro-Tip is out of order when it comes to what we have been rebooting for the website. However we feel that with the Hot temperatures and Bushfires going on it was an important message to get out to people, so please share it amongst your contacts as the details on here could help protect you in an extreme environmental situation. If you would like any more details about anything mentioned please feel free to contact us or check out the websites listed at the bottom of the tip.

BUSHFIRE:

Living in Australia Bushfires are one of those threats that we cannot avoid, but by knowing what to do if you are in a bush fire area you may be able to help protect yourself. The number one thing to always remember in any emergency situation is to STAY CALM, if you panic then you will move slower and it will be harder to make decisions. Bushfires are scary they move quickly and the noise is deafening if you are near them so make sure you have plans in place to help you survive. If you live in a bushfire area there are certain steps you should take to protect your property as best as possible but also for preparation if the bushfire does come and you need to evacuate.

Preparing your property:

  • Cut any long grass
  • move any branches/leaves near the house far away
  • trim any trees/bushes near the house
  • remove any furniture or mats from the outside of the house
  • keep block generally clear and tidy

Preparation for a Bushfire

  • Use local fire authorities resources available (State based fire authorities details listed below)
  • Ensure you advise friends/family of your survival plan to help avoid confusion and extra stress
  • Know your trigger to leave (Watching for ‘Code Red’ on Fire boards, listen to warnings on local radio, keep an eye on Fire authorities website/app)
  • Have your Survival plan located somewhere easy to find (to prevent panic about not knowing where it is and what you need to do)
  • Keep all valuable items in an easily located space (even with your survival plan) so that if you need to evacuate they are together and ready to go

Your Survival plan needs to cover 3 main areas: What to do before you leave, Where can you go on high-risk Bushfire days & a plan of how you will reach your destination. The more details you have arranged in your survival plan the easier it will be to remain calm and focused if a bush fire ever eventuates.

What to do before you leave (this is to try and help minimize damage to your house and possessions):

  • Make sure all doors and windows are shut
  • As previous mentioned remove all outdoor furniture and door mats
  • Move any animals to large well maintained paddocks
  • If there is gas at the property turn it off
  • Spray the house with water – particularly roof gutters (block the downpipes so the water says in place)
  • Leave clear access to the property – no locked gates. So that fire crews can access the property if needed.
  • Prepare survival kit for travel and contact any one who needs to be contacted as part of your survival plan
  • Make sure you take a list of all necessary numbers that you may need once relocated – mobile phones are not reliable so take a written list as well in case your phone breaks.

Where can you go on Bushfire high risk days

  • Community centers/temporary shelters
  • Any public spaces that are in low fire risk areas
  • family/friends who live in low fire risk areas

Planning to reach your destination

  • Plan where you are going and the route to get there in advance (always plan multiple routes to get there in case of road closures)
  • If you do not have a car make arrangements with neighbors or family members near by
  • Practice planning the car with everything you will take during an evacuation. This helps speed up the process and lets you know that everything will fit (prized possessions, pets etc.)
  • Take your Survival plan and have a bushfire kit in your car (view image below for what should be in a bush fire survival kit)

Bag with spare natural fibre clothes/toiletries
Plenty of water
Food supplies (in case you get stranded)
First aid kit/medications
Torch and batteries
Mobile and charger
Important documents
battery powered AM/FM Radio
Wool Blankets (MUST BE WOOL)

 

The number one killer in a bushfire is radiant heat so it is important to make sure that if you are in a bushfire area to have clothes in your car that may help protect you from radiant heat such as boots, natural fibre clothes (e.g. cotton) goggles, face mask if possible (or bandana soaked in water – this is more to prevent smoke inhalation) broad brimmed hat and gloves. You want to have as much of your skin covered as possible.

Traveling in a bushfire

If you find yourself in bushfire and you are unable to escape (whether it be in a car or hiking) there are steps you can take to try and protect yourself from injury – however it is an extremely dangerous situation to find yourself in and should be avoided at all costs.

If you find yourself in a bush fire and you are in a CAR:

  • DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR – stay in the vehicle is the current advice
  • Park in a large cleared area (eg like a paddock) which is away from trees and if possible long grass
  • Turn on any external lights you may have (e.g Headlights and Hazard lights) to draw attention to yourself
  • Close all windows and vents to prevent smoke entering the car – if the car fills up you risk asphyxiation.
  • Get below window level (lie down behind drivers seat or on back seat if possible)
  • Cover yourself with a dry woolen blanket (it must be wool)
  • When fire has passed get out of the car

When driving across country you should consider taking the survival kit (shown above) just as a precaution. it may help you survive during and after a bushfire has passed if you find yourself stuck in one. It is important to also try and wear natural fiber clothing like cotton when traveling through the country, not only will it help you stay safe from heat related illness it will also keep you much safer in a fire as it doesn’t melt like acrylic material does in radiant heat. Acrylic material if it melts onto your skin can cause horrific burns. Keeping a wool blanket or Jumper, mittens and balaclava in your can is also important because Wool doesn’t catch fire like other materials which is why it it recommended to have in fire situations. The wool will just singe like human hair does and this will help protect you.

If you find yourself in a bushfire and you are HIKING/CAMPING:

  • Always carry woolen jumper/s, balaclava, and mittens to help cover the majority of your skin from burns
  • Seek refuge behind rocky outcrop, a high wall, in a cave, gully/large animal burrow, paddock, lake or dam.
  • Avoid slopes and hill tops (avoid where possible being above a fire)
  • DO NOT seek shelter in above ground water tanks  or pools (as these act like giant cooking pots when the fire arrives and boils the water)
  • Carry plenty of water and food supplies, AM/FM radio if possible and always have a first aid kit available
  • Always make sure that you have told family/friends before you leave where you are/plan to be so that they can notify authorities of your approximate location if they haven’t heard from you. If people don’t know you are out there, they wont know to look for you.

As mentioned at the start of this Pro-Tip the safest thing to do is avoid bushfire areas and evacuate early. Fire moves extremely quickly (far quicker than most people think) and the number one killer in a bush fire isn’t the flames it is the radiant heat which reaches you before the flames do. Please always have a survival plan if you live in a high-risk area, and if you are traveling through a bushfire area please take a survival kit with you as a precaution.

For more information on all of this and also for a Fire Ready Survival kit Please follow the links below for your state (if you are unable to access the link – due to page overloads – please contact us and we will email you back a copy of the kit)

Remember that the number one thing to do in a Bushfire is STAY CALM – do not panic and stick to your plan, or follow the steps above to give yourself a fighting chance against the fires.

Bushfire information services:

CFA (Victoria)

  • 1800 240 667
  • www.cfa.vic.gov.au
RFS (NSW)

  • 1800 679 737
  • www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
CFS (SA)

  • 1300 362 361
  • www.cfs.sa.gov.au
DFES (WA)

  • 1300 657 209
  • www.dfes.wa.gov.au
TFS (Tas)

  • www.fire.tas.gov.au

 

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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.

 

buddy_system1You should always attend a protest with 2 to 3 people you know and trust …  stick with them all day.

Protesters have been using the Buddy System for decades now because:

  • It’s safer (you’ve got each other back);
  • You can share supplies;
  • You can assess each other’s mental & emotional state if things go haywire;
  • You can get a second opinion;
  • (Street Medics) One person can interact with the casualty whilst the other interacts with the crowd;
  • You know what medications your buddy is on & where they are stored
  • You’ll be able to acknowledge your buddy’s warning signs, symptoms & triggers if things become stressful (useful in avoiding Critical Incident Stress developing into PTSD down the line.)
  • You’ll know what to do if one of you gets arrested.
  • You can debrief together afterwards.

Being a Buddy means you never leave your partner(s) field of vision but, if you do get split up during the action be certain to have a back-up plan or meeting place in mind so you can hook up again later.

Best practice is to work with an AFFINITY GROUP.

Please, tell us about your experiences with the Buddy System? Or Share some useful Buddying tips in the comment section below