So you want to help a gunshot victim/classmate/music fan

81Nb0HK1dlL._SL1500_If you, like millions of unwitting Americans, are a habitual risk-taker who regularly defies death by attending concerts or going to nightclubs or walking across your college campus to get to class, you’ve probably wondered, “What should I do if I’m minding my own business, trying to live a normal life, and someone gets shot?” 

Since we, as a nation, have allowed the NRA to shut down all discussion of how to prevent people from being shot, here are three products you can buy, carry, and use to save lives if—hell, let’s go ahead and say when—someone in your vicinity is shot.

Standard disclaimers: My EMT certification lapsed years ago, I’m not providing this advice as any kind of a medical professional, and this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. It’s the simplest set of options that I find feasible to carry with me on a regular basis. I’m not endorsing any of the products I’m linking to; I carry some of them but have not (yet) used them in trauma situations.

This is where I would be expected to remind you to wear latex gloves when using the products below, but you know what? If you’re involved in a shooting, there’s going to be blood fucking everywhere and it’s going to get on you. Buy gloves if you want; you’ll still need to clean up with bleach and water when it’s all over.

Also, remember that the first thing to do in a shooting is to get out of danger.

1. Occlusive dressing: If someone is shot (or stabbed, or otherwise punctured) in the chest, you need to prevent air from entering through the wound. Air in the chest cavity can cause pneumothorax, a.k.a. lung collapse, or tension pneumothorax, where air accumulating in the chest cavity compresses the opposite lung, the heart, and the major veins. As my EMT textbook says, “Death can occur rapidly.” You can use literally any air-tight material to seal a chest wound, even a plastic bag. Don’t worry if it’s not sterile; whatever caused the wound has already introduced plenty of bacteria. You’ll also need to make sure air can escape from the chest, which is why commercial dressings are preferable (if you’re improvising, you have to lift one edge of the dressing during exhalation). Here’s a 2-pack of chest seals for $16.79 on Amazon that automatically allow air to escape, but not enter, the wound. It’s a small package, easily carried in a backpack or purse. A 2-pack is handy for gunshot situations, because you can cover the entry and exit wounds. 

Oh yeah, remember to check for exit wounds.

2. Hemostatic agents: Yes, you need to apply pressure to stop bleeding, but for gunshot wounds you’ll likely need more than that. There are now multiple commercial products that cause blood to clot quickly. You can buy gauze that packs into a wound, or injectors that shove absorbent pellets into a deep puncture. Sponges and powders are also available. Buy whichever product you can carry most easily—that way you’re more likely to have it when needed. Pro tip: Read the directions ahead of time.

3. Tourniquets. You may have learned to use these in scouts, you may have heard since then that they aren’t safe and shouldn’t be used at all. If bleeding can’t be controlled by direct pressure, use one. Any problems that arise from tourniquet use can be dealt with at the hospital; they are less serious than the problem of bleeding to death. You can improvise tourniquets, using material that’s fairly wide—4″ is recommended, but commercial tourniquets are cheap, simple to use, and easy to carry.

I also recommend taking a basic first aid course, and a good self defense course (preferably taught from the empowerment model).

And of course, fuck the NRA. 

Fifty Ways to Punch a Nazi

I recently had a conversation with several Facebook friends about articles like this:

After the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, many people are asking themselves what they should do if Nazis rally in their city. Should they put their bodies on the line in counterdemonstrations? Some say yes. History says no. Take it from me: I study the original Nazis.

I’ve been getting similar advice from well-intentioned folks on Twitter. The more I hear these arguments warning against assertive counterprotest, the more they strike me as simplistic, judgmental, and unhelpful. Especially when they offer, as does this “History says no!” article, barely a gesture at alternatives.

In the first place: You know what it finally took to defeat the “original Nazis”? THREE FUCKING ALLIED ARMIES. Sure, non-violence works. Ask Neville Chamberlain.

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The Fart Whistle: An Appreciation

41YpgXxx9bL._SX522_Yesterday there was a hastily arranged, but well-attended, protest of Donald Trump’s visit to Austin in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. I wasn’t working security in any formal way, so I just brought along a grab bag of items that I thought might be useful, especially in the event of disruptive counter-protest. And in fact, a few Trump supporters did show up (including one lady who took a piece of my posterboard to make a sign that said “Africa for Trump”), and some conflict did occur–mainly verbal. 
So I decided to try out the fart whistle I bought last month, on the theory that ridiculous noises can go a long way toward a. drowning out alt-right nonsense and b. defusing tension.

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Alt-right Violence: Tactics and Responses

The far right is unquestionably escalating its violence against those who oppose their agenda of racism, sexism, and fascism. I’m not going to waste your time with cautions about the legal or ethical perils of physical violence. I’ll assume you are all adults and you wouldn’t be interested in damaging people’s bodies unless your own life and physical safety were under attack. Nor will I digress here with thoughts on the limits of nonviolence, or the propensity of privileged white people to demand wholly nonviolent activism, while ignoring the impact of structural violence on non-white, non-privileged people. Maybe in another post. My purpose is simply to alert people to the process by which the alt-right tends to escalate “protest” into mass assault, and provide a few basic ideas for reducing injury to oneself is such a situation.

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