Gunshot wounds are becoming more common at demonstrations. This is not to say you should panic—millions of people have participated in demonstrations over the past four months, while only dozens have been shot. Still, as political conflict escalates in the United States, it is important to think about how we can care for and protect each other. The good news is that even if you have no medical training, there are things you can do to maximize the likelihood that a person who is shot in your vicinity will survive—simple things like learning the location of the nearest trauma center. Though this subject can be stressful to contemplate, the following guide may equip you to help save lives.
While many demonstrators have learned how to prepare for tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, LRADs, baton blows, and arrests, few are currently prepared to respond to gunshot wounds. This guide is drawn from the experiences of several people who have witnessed or treated gunshot wounds in the course of political and social conflict. In order to demystify the subject and help readers imagine how they might employ this information, we’ve included two personal narratives describing experiences with gunshot wounds at demonstrations.
Although this text draws on the practical knowledge of a number of people with both institutional training and street experience, it does not represent professional medical advice. It includes some information that will chiefly be useful to experienced street medics, but most of it is relevant to any reader. It is not intended to stand in for actual training in gunshot wound response or other medical interventions. We encourage readers to seek out additional training, skills, and life-saving critical response tools.
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