With pepper spray and rubber bullet-armed riot police, protesting can be a dangerous pursuit.
One anti-war organization, A.R.I.S.E., is sponsoring a street medical training program at UCSB on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in South Hall to teach protesters how to protect themselves. It will focus on first aid in protest situations, including how to deal with injuries resulting from tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, wooden dowels and batons. First aid training will be provided by the Black Cross Health Collective, a Portland, Oregon-based collective of health care workers dedicated to educating protesters on “street first aid.” The event is free and open to the public.
“This event is for any group involved in rallying,” A.R.I.S.E. member and sophomore biology major Katie Maynard said. “It’s non-political and will be good training for people involved in peace protesting, but every group can benefit from it.”
Gabriel Cohn, a protester and member of A.R.I.S.E., said the first aid training is beneficial to protestors.
“From my own experience living in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, Minn. I have seen some pretty serious confrontations,” Cohn said. “In Washington, protesters know what to do in these situations, and it makes protesting a much safer activity.”
Maynard said such training could have been beneficial in past situations, such as when she was threatened with pepper spray and witnessed an assault on a fellow protester during a Santa Barbara protest.
“We have seen a lot of incidents where it would have been very helpful to have this type of medical training,” Maynard said. “Not every protest situation is dangerous, but we want to be ready if you do run into it.”
Maynard said A.R.I.S.E. hopes to make protesting a more inviting activity by teaching first aid and other safety skills.
“Many people are driven out of protesting because they don’t feel safe,” she said.
Maynard said knowing how to protect yourself in protest situations helps protect freedom of speech.
“Come out to ensure your right to speak your voice,” she said, “and to be prepared.”