A16 Medical Team Info for
Tear gas & pepper spray
prevention & First-Aid
Other A16 Medical Team information for Protesters:
1) General Advice for Protesters
2) Protestersí Supplies to Bring
3) Medical Monitorís Information (available early April)
Pocket-Guide First Aid; clinics & local hospitals (copy;
Detailed Information on:
The Big Picture
Other First Aid
Further delightful reading
Hey kids, print & clip-out this nifty 1 page Guide and keep with
Pocket-Guide First Aid, and A16 clinics & local hospitals
TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY
PREVENTION: Wash before with castille soap. Cover up with water repellent
clothes & gear. Donít wear contact lenses, make-up, moisturizers or
vegetable/mineral oil-based cream. Donít use Vaseline or mineral oil as
skin barrier. Use gas mask, respirators, sealed (swim) goggles, and/or
vinegar or lemon juice-soaked bandanna over mouth/nose. GENERAL TREATMENT:
Stay calm & focused. You are strong. The discomfort is only temporary
& will not damage you. Donít touch face or rub eyes. Get to fresh air,
eyes open, arms out (if tear gas), breath slow & deep. Blow nose, spit
out chemicals. Consider water to flush eyes & gargle. Water or Witch
Hazel soaked gauze or cotton balls on closed eyes are soothing. After treatment,
wash off with cold water & replace contaminated clothes.
WIPES may be clean cloth, gauze, 4x4s etc. . WATER may have 4 drops
per quart of Rescue Remedy added. NORMAL SALINE (0.9% sodium solution)
may be substituted for rinsing, cleaning water. · Call for "Medic!"
Effects last minutes to an hour. Maybe rinse chemical off with water.
Effects last up to 2 hours. If still wet on skin, carefully sponge
off. Donít spread it around.
The Seattle Facial: Seattle Solution (1 bottle w 10 - 15 % vegetable
oil or mineral oil, the rest water & 1-2 tbs. of liquid dish soap.)
1 bottle of water - or - Ďbabywipesí. Wipe solution on skin. Rinse off
with water -or- wipe off with babywipes.
The Protester Facial: Wipe mineral oil on skin. Immediately wipe ALL
off with rubbing alcohol. Mineral oil will trap chemicals, so take it ALL
CLINICS & HOSPITALS:
A16 MEDICAL CLINICS: There will be a Forward Clinic near protests,
and more complete Rear Clinic outside of zone. Locations not finalized
as of this writing.
Forward Clinic is at:__________________________________
Rear Clinic is at:______________________________________
HOSPITALS: All hospitals must admit people with medical emergencies
if they are capable of treating you. Only DC General Hospital is a public
hospital. Even they can refuse non-emergency treatment to uninsured non-DC
(Web site maps: http://www.thomas.com/poi/wmg98/CategoryList15.html
All located in DC (202) area code. From nearest to further away:
· George Washington University Hospital, 23 St. & I St.
NW, across from Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU. ER: 715-5315
· Columbia Hospital for Women, 24 St. & L St. NW, 3 blocks
north of Metro: Foggy Bottom/ GWU. (no emergency room) 293-6500
· Georgetown University Hospital, 38 St. & Reservoir Rd.
NW. ER: 784-2119 Metro: Dupont Circle then take D2 Bus or GUTS Shuttle
· Howard University Hospital, Georgia Ave. & V St. NW. 3
blocks north of Metro: Shaw/Howard U., ER triage: 865-1131
· Washington Hospital Center, Emergency Room is behind (north
of) Childrenís Hospital, 1st St. & Michigan Ave., NW Metro: Brookland/CUA
then take H2, 3 or 4 Bus or Shuttle Bus. ER: 877-6701. Eye Center located
inside Suite 1A-19. 877-EYES (3937)
· VA Hospital, Across street from Washington Hospital Center
on 1st St. & Irving NW. Same transportation as Wash. Hosp. Center.
· DC General Hospital, 19 St. & Massachusetts Ave. SE, Across
from Metro: Stadium/Armory (Blue & Yellow lines). (Might be faster
to get to than above hospitals that are not near a Metro). ER Triage: 698-7518
Your buddyís phone #_______________address:______________________
MORE DETAILED INFORMATION:
THE BIG PICTURE
This First Aid information will describe simple and effective techniques
to prevent and treat most of the effects from tear gas, pepper spray and
some other possibilities.
Those methods used by the police against us are not so much weapons
of pain, as they are tools of distraction. The fear of pepper spray and
tear gas is a diversion intended to control us, to cloud our vision and
obscure the weakness of the corporate State - devoid of joy or love, knowing
only the language of threats and fear.
Fear thrives on uncertainty and lack of knowledge. There is a lot of
information here. We urge that each Affinity Group or group of buddies
to appoint a Medical Monitor who learns - or can effectively refer to this,
and the other health documents on Supplies and Advice that we have issued.
We want you to stay healthy and happy.
"What history really shows is that todayís empire is tomorrowís ashes,
that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your
own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is
to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down
the human spirit."
-Mumia Abu Jamal
Remember, theyíre more scared of us than we are of them. They understand
clearly we have the power to change this rotten system, and we have already
shown that we can face down our fears.
FIRST, DO NO HARM.
Make sure you apply treatments within your ability and understanding
level. Recognize your limits. Ask for or refer to someone more experienced
when needed. Experienced health workers know that asking for help is often
Wipes may be clean cloth, gauze, 4x4s etc. .
Water may have 4 drops per quart of homeopathic Rescue Remedy added.
Normal Saline (0.9% sodium solution) may be substituted for water used
flushing eyes or cleaning wounds.
TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY TREATMENT:
GENERAL TREATMENT FOR TEAR GAS (CS, CN) AND PEPPER SPRAY (OC)
· Practice first aid treatments before the action on each other
· You get experienced before you need to do treatments during
an intense situation.
· You know what the treatment feels like.
· All water for cleaning, rinsing and drinking can contain homeopathic
Rescue Remedy, 2-4 drops per quart.
· Stay calm & focused.
· When your body heats up (from running or panicking, for example),
the irritation may increase. Part of the reason is that your pours will
open allowing more absorption of the chemicals.
· Make your way to a safe space with fresh air where unexposed
folks can help you, or at least ensure your safety while you treat yourself.
· Face wind, open eyes, hold arms out and walk around to let
air decontaminate you. Take slow deep breaths of clean air.
· Donít touch your eyes or your face, as you may re-contaminate
· Blow your nose, spit out chemicals. With tear gas, this might
often be enough treatment.
· Before you assist or treat anyone, ask them for permission
first! Then explain to them what you are going to do before you do it.
· Wear clean gloves (mutual protection from contamination) and
eye protection, or you will end up unable to help and in need of treatment
yourself - the blowback and splashing from administering some of the treatments
can be wicked!
· Best if cleaning solutions and water spill directly to ground
so as to not contaminate clean skin, clothes or hair.
· Store contaminated wipes in a sealed bag.
· Decontaminate with a cold shower (keeps pores closed preventing
chemicals from entering skin).
· Exchange contaminated clothing for fresh.
· Be aware that entering into a room with contaminated cloths,
hair & skin reeking of chemicals will contaminate the room.
· A contaminated room with carpets or textiles on furniture
may reek for weeks.
· If possible, please change out of contaminated garments before
entering A16 enclosed spaces such as convergence and treatment areas.
· Place contaminated clothes in bag. Squeeze out air. Seal it
so the gases will diffuse out more slowly. If you want the clothes back,
mark bag with a name.
TEAR GAS (CS, CN) TREATMENT
· Fresh Air.
· Consider rinsing off chemicals with water.
· See General Treatment sections for additional details.
PEPPER SPRAY (OC) TREATMENTS
· Fresh Air
· If there is wet pepper spray on skin, pad/sponge it up with
cloth without spreading it around. If you move the oily chemical around
the skin, you increase the area of painful skin.
· See General Treatment sections for additional details.
A) The Seattle Facial:
This works only for recent exposure when pepper spray is still wet
Recipe for the Seattle Solution:
1st Bottle w convenient squirt-top (not spray-top)
Fill 10-15% of bottle with cheap Vegetable or Mineral Oil
Fill rest with Water
Add 1 tablespoon of Liquid Dish Soap.
Shake. Everything should dissolve evenly. If not, add another tablespoon
Do NOT use mineral spirits, motor oil or detergent.
2nd Bottle of Water only for rinsing. Spray-top is good to conserve
Clean cloth, gauze, etc..
Alternative to 2nd Water rinse are Ďbabywipesí cleaning tissues.
Recommend using different colored marked bottles to avoid confusion.
For recent exposure within 5 - 30 minutes (Pepper spray should still
be wet on skin).
1) If there is glistening pepper spray on skin, pad/sponge it up with
cloth without spreading it around.
2) Put some Seattle Solution on clean cloth and wipe affected skin
with it. Keep Out Of Eyes!
3) Rinse off ALL of Seattle Solution with water by spraying off from
spray bottle, or wipe off with wet clean cloth. Wiping can add friction
to remove, but it can also rub it more or spread it around more.
4) Babywipes can be used instead of water to wipe Seattle Solution
B) The Protester Facial
Works on pepper spray that is wet or dried on skin. This is dangerous
if not done precisely as it can burn skin! Donít substitute the ingredients.
Mineral Oil, Rubbing Alcohol, Clean Gauze or Cloth wipes.
1) Wipe Mineral Oil on exposed skin. Keep Out Of Eyes. The mineral
oil will trap the pepper chemicals, but doesnít neutralize it.
2) Immediately wipe off all Mineral Oil with Alcohol. All Mineral Oil
Must Be Removed Or Else It Can Burn Skin!
3) A water or witch-hazel rinse is nice, but not necessary. Youíll
smell less like a rubbie.
GENERAL TREATMENT OF:
· If it hurts, donít rub it. Donít Touch Eyes.
· Touching eyes with contaminated fingers adds to eye effects.
· Expect that eyes will tear, eyelids will blink or close and
you will not see well.
· Help others with impaired vision.
· Flush eyes with water. Best method: face sideways and forward
(so contaminated water drips on ground and not on shirt or hair). Ask person
if you can hold eyelids open (with clean fingers only). Gently squirt,
pour or spray water on eyes to wash out chemicals.
· Often, the eyelids may be blinking or spasming shut so this
may not be possible.
· Place gauze or cotton balls soaked in water over closed eyelids.
This brings soothing relief, even if unable to flush eyes.
· If suspecting eye injury, ophthalmologist may be available
in A16 Rear Medical Clinic. The Eye Center is always open at the Washington
Hospital Center. (202) 877-EYES (3937). Suite 1A-19.
· Contact Lenses trap chemicals from tear gas and pepper spray.
It is certainly more irritating, and can lead to corneal damage. We strongly
advise that all contact lens wearers wear glasses instead to any protest
that risks contact with chemicals.
· If you get gassed or sprayed wearing contact lenses, remove
them when you have clean hands and can see where your contacts are. (You
might need them to get away). Take contacts out within 5- 15 minutes. Once
you are tearing and your lids are blinking or spasming shut from the chemicals,
it will be difficult to remove them.
· Exception - if you are about to arrested and handcuffed -
thatís the time to try to take them out. Try to take out contacts as soon
as you successfully can.
· If your hands are going to be chained up in tubes or immobilized
for your CD action - donít wear the fucking lenses!
· Wash them out with water.
· Lean forward so the contaminated chemicals fall directly on
the ground, and not spread over you.
· Rinse & spit with water.
BREATHING PROBLEMS (BEYOND COUGHING)
AFTER BEING EXPOSED TO TEAR GAS OR PEPPER SPRAY.
· Is breathing difficult? This could be from chest tightness,
or swelling from the throat or mouth. If so, call for experienced help.
Call out loud, "Iíve got someone who is having breathing trouble and needs
trained assistance". Encourage slow deep breaths.
· If someone is saying they canít breath and are talking, ask
them if they have asthma or other respiratory problems. If they can speak,
worry less, if they canít speak - this may be a respiratory emergency.
· If the person is an asthmatic, ask them if they have inhaler.
If they do, help them use it, (put it in their hand). If no inhaler, get
· Have person sit, kneel or lie down if in safe area. Help them
find a comfortable position to breath.
· If pain is at top of throat - gargle & spit water but
ONLY if the person is able to do so safely without choking. Do not swallow
- the chemicals are bad for your gastrointestinal tract, can cause severe
symptoms for days, and arenít very nutritious.
· With breathing problems from the back of throat - gargle and
swallowing (which may wash down some of the chemicals that gargling canít
reach) is OK ONLY if the person can safely swallow. Diarrhea is better
than poor breathing.
· If pain is from chest or behind breast bone, donít bother
All people who have breathing problems after being exposed to gas or
pepper need to
· Get a proper medical check up;
· Not return to action;
· Be observant for the next 12 - 24 hours for re-occurring breathing
· Stay with them until they recover completely.
PREVENTION OF TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY EFFECTS
Protection via hygiene:
Avoid contacting any detergents before hand. Detergents provide a link
between the oily base of the chemical weapon and your skin, allowing the
chemicals to dissolve.
Wash the clothes you will wear several times in soap that is detergent-free.
Avoid newly purchased clothes which generally have a substantial detergent
Wash and rinse your scalp and dreads thoroughly. Washing your body thoroughly
with unscented castille soap (such as unscented Dr. Bronners) is essential
on the day of the action to rid your skin of oils and dead skin cells,
which helps the chemicals stick to your skin.
Avoid applying all vegetable or mineral oils--this means moisturizers,
lotions, make-up & certain sun screens. They trap chemicals to your
Protection via skin barriers:
We have no reliable reports on skin applications like clay, etc.. Consider
the problems of wearing it all day, reaction to sweat, water, etc. Do not
use Vaseline or mineral oil as an attempted barrier--this is a commonly
spread myth that would cause much more harm than good. They trap the chemicals
to your skin.
Protection via gear:
(See A16 Med Teamís: Recommended Supplies for
Cover-up as much as possible. Wearing a layer of clothing clinched at
the wrists, ankles, and neck can prevent the irritant from getting to much
of your skin.
Fuzzy garments trap tear gas, so wear fleece and sweaters under a protective
layer. Garments made of synthetic petroleum-based fabrics (fleece) can
act like a wick soaking up chemicals, slowly releasing them for days after.
For the external layer of protective clothing, synthetic water-repellent
or non-absorbing materials are better than cotton or wool which will soak
up chemicals. Rain gear, hair cover and gloves are good.
Afterwards, you will want to wash, (this time with nasty harsh non-organic
detergent to dissolve the chemicals) trash, or cheerfully donate your contaminated
clothes to the Clinton Administration.
Gas masks provide the best facial protection, if properly fitted and
sealed. Make sure it is not an old one with asbestos filters. Shatter resistant
lenses are best. The M17A1 model is recommended. Most eyeglass frames will
not fit inside gas masks, but contoured frames or prescription swim goggles
Alternatives to gas mask: sealed (swim) eye-goggles & respirator
with filters designed for paint stripper or hazardous gases that cover
nose & mouth. A vinegar or lemon juice-wet cloth over the nose and
mouth helps, is cheap, (and will be available if your gas mask gets stolen
by the police who may ban them).
If you know chemicals are coming, put on protective gear, remove your
contacts, and/or try to get away. Often clues are the police deploying
their gas masks. Moving away from the source, or moving upwind is key.
Protection via adaptation:
Hang out in a few smoky Montreal clubs and the chemicals wont seem
If police are shooting plastic bullets, wear shatter resistant eye
protection. Protect your throat with your hand, and if possible, turn away
from direction of fire. While the plastic bullets fired from CO2 charges
(as used in Seattle) should not penetrate skin, they do bruise and can
HOW TEAR GAS AND PEPPER SPRAY ARE DEPLOYED:
· Pepper spray is applied to crowds via spray or pump bottles,
or may be directly applied to the eyes and other sensitive membranes of
locked down activists.
· It can come in small, hand-held dispensers (like mace), or
from large tanks.
· Tear gas (CN & CS) are solids at room temperature, and
must be heated or sprayed to reach large numbers of people.
· Tear gas is emitted from canisters which are fired into crowds.
The canisters become extremely hot. Pick up only with heavy duty gloves.
Be extremely careful that you don't throw it into a group of your allies.
And be aware that the time it takes you to throw it will allow you to be
TEAR GAS AND PEPPER SPRAY EFFECTS:
· Discomfort from Tear Gas and Pepper Spray is temporary
and we are extremely strong.
· Tear gas effects usually last less than a few minutes for
a low to moderate dose.
· Pepper spray is often sprayed by police deliberately in your
face from inches to a few feet away, so you would feel much more intense
effects. They will disappear however. (The police too!)
· The first effect maybe fear to the uninitiated. Donít worry
and donít panic. You will survive. People once gassed often get used to
dealing with it.
· The severity of the effects depend on: how heavily you were
dosed, the amount of ventilation to disperse the gas or particles, your
response to discomfort, barriers you are using, your respiratory reaction
to pollutants, and the treatments used.
· Tear Gas effects can last up to 45 minutes, Pepper Spray effects
up to 2 hours. You can then return to the action, assuming you take care
of yourself in the meantime.
· In an enclosed space with no ventilation, the chemical does
not disperse and you have about a minute before your body starts to react
· Being outside will obviously help.
· Both are skin irritants.
· CS Tear Gas creates acid molecules on the skin.
· The moister our body is, the faster the acid is created and
tissues are damaged, causing pain.
· Pepper Spray causes pain by stimulating chemical receptors
in the skin, causing the release of a pain-causing chemical called "Substance
· However, the effects are pretty similar for both.
· Both forms of chemical warfare have their most powerful effect
on the eyes, nose, mouth and breathing passages.
· Eyes will tear, causing your vision to blur. Eyelids may blink
or even spasm shut
· Nose may run.
· Regular breathing will become difficult. You are likely to
· Skin can have a burning sensation. Especially if you have
sensitive or fair skin, make sure you skin is not chemically burned by
a heavy dose.
· Disorientation and confusion is possible.
· There are reports from Seattle of a higher than usual number
of women exposed to chemical weapons experiencing spontaneous menstruation
beyond the norm for a stressful event. At least one spontaneous abortion
- or miscarriage - was reported. Some women reported irregular periods
persisting for months after the event. This may be due to the methylene
· Anger from Pepper Spray is common, and can be useful if you
are prepared and able to focus it.
· Maybe you can use your anger to motivate you to recover faster
and get back in the action again. Maybe it will provide you with just enough
energy to get out to a safe space.
OTHER FIRST AID:
· RICE: Rest (donít walk on sprained ankle, or use sprained
wrist), Ice, Compression (ace-bandage), Elevation.
· Immobilize fractured limb (with other part of body, stick,
· Get person to medical facility
· Watch for signs of internal bleeding (swelling, bruising)
· If chemical burn, flush off chemical with copious amounts
· Cool water relieves
· Keep burn clean and sterile
· Do not break blisters. Do not wipe. Gently blot with clean
cloth to remove moisture and grime.
· Bandage loosely to keep clean.
· May apply proper ointments to minor non-blister burn
· For extensive burns, seek medical help. The Washington Hospital
Center has DCís burn unit.
· Do not remove impaled object - that might cause more injury
or more bleeding.
· Immobilize the object with clean or sterile bandages
· Get the person to advanced medical care. May also need tetanus
· Put pressure on the cut to help stop bleeding.
· Cover wound with clean or sterile bandages.
Shock is loss of vital blood pressure. Signs are decreased consciousness,
cool/clammy/pale skin, and/or rapid & weak pulse.
· Have the person lie on their back. Raise knees slightly (unless
there are head injuries, leg fractures or breathing difficulty). This helps
blood flow to brain.
· Make sure the person is breathing.
· Seek medical help - this could be an emergency.
Determine cause for shock:
· Dehydration - they should drink water if conscious enough,
or IV solution infusion by trained medical person.
· Bleeding - stop bleeding via pressure. Person will need IV
infusion & further intervention by trained medical person.
· Reaction to chemical: Make sure person is breathing. Be prepared
to perform CPR. If symptoms do not improve rapidly, treat as a medical
· Victim may also have brain and spinal injury.
· Keep head-back elevated at least 30 degrees if lying down.
· Person may be irrational - control them to ensure safety.
· If bleeding, apply bandages lightly.
· Bring help to victim.
· Watch for decreasing level of consciousness, behavior changes,
difficulty to arouse, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, head ache.
· Follow Up Care is ESSENTIAL because of possible later onset
Eye Glasses Lost, Broken, Blurry Near Vision:
· Pinhole in paper, held close to the eye will make it possible
· Cheap non-Rx drug store glasses my be temporary substitute.
For more information, please read our:
· General Advice for Protesters
· Protestersí Supplies to Bring
· Medical Monitorís Information (available early April)
Thank you, and take care of each other,
The A16 Medical Team
FURTHER DELIGHTFUL READING:
Our militaryís public paranoia about chemical weapons is focused on
foreign terrorist threats. But who are they kidding - chemical weapon violence
is almost always unleashed by State forces against its citizens. Still,
they do publish some useful information. Lacking is information on long
term health consequences.
· The European Union's STOA An appraisal of technologies of political
control website has an incredibly comprehensive list of references on chemical
weapons and projectiles (e.g. rubber bullets) on p 79-98 of the report
bibliography - just click "Riot Control Weapons" on webpage: http://www.whispers.demon.nl/publications/stoa/stoa1jan1998biblio.html#Innoa
The text of the STOA report contains a useful review of chemical weapons
(p 11-12) and a more thorough discussion (p 32-36) in the chapter on Riot
Control Weapons at the website: http://www.whispers.demon.nl/publications/stoa/stoa1jan1998.html#5.
· Medical Management Of Chemical Casualties Handbook http://ccc.apgea.army.mil/Documents/Red%20Handbook/.htm
Note chapters on "Incapacitating Agents" and "Riot-Control Agents"
· Chemical Casualty Care Division of the US Army MRIC - located
at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds http://ccc.apgea.army.mil/
this is the Virtual Navel Hospital
· "Health Hazards of Pepper Spray" by C. Gregory Smith, MD, MPH,
and Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH (North Carolina Medical Journal) http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/Smith-OK.htm
· Chemical Cops - Terry J. Allen, In These Times April 2, 2000