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DEALING WITH TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY

The Quebec Medical Team is prepared to assist those that want our help at the FTAA protests. We will field many trained medics. However, you the protesters can potentially avoid the effects of pepper spray and tear gas if you dress properly, and come prepared. Take our advice to heart: PREVENTION WORKS!
DEALING WITH TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY

The Quebec Medical Team's advice on dressing against, and dealing with tear gas & pepper spray:
(514) 848-7585
 quebecmedical@hotmail.com (soon to have our info on a web site).

The Quebec Medical Team is prepared to assist those that want our help at the FTAA protests. We will field many trained medics. However, you the protesters can potentially avoid the effects of pepper spray and tear gas if you dress properly, and come prepared. Take our advice to heart: PREVENTION WORKS!

TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY The first and most important thing to remember is to relax! If you are well prepared mentally and have essential supplies and knowledge, you will probably not need our medical assistance. Fear & confusion are the State's major weapon. Confidence, determination, preparation and awareness of your strength is your best weapon.

PREVENTION: Wash before with castille soap or vegetable (non-detergent) soap. Cover up exposed skin with water repellent clothes & gear as much as possible when risking getting gassed or sprayed. (Notice how the police who spray the stuff are completely covered up!) Don't wear contact lenses, make-up, moisturizers or vegetable/mineral oil-based cream. Don't use Vaseline or mineral oil as skin barrier.

Use a quality gas mask, respirators, dust-type masks good against paint solvents (found in hardware stores), and/or vinegar (apple-cider) or lemon juice-soaked bandanna over mouth/nose. (Keep several wet bandannas in a zip-lock bag until needed). For eye protection: a quality gas mask (with shatter resistant lenses), or sealed (swim or ski) goggles. If the chemicals cannot touch your skin or eyes, or get to your lungs, you should do fine.

GENERAL TREATMENT: Stay calm & focused. You are strong. The discomfort is only temporary & will not damage you. Don't touch face or rub eyes. Get to fresh air, eyes open, arms out (if tear gas), breath slow & face the wind t o disperse the chemicals. If that is not enough, call for a medic to assist. If you get pepper sprayed in the eyes, you will need assistance soon to mak e your way around, as your eyes will likely spasm shut. Remove your contact lenses ASAP!

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 today's empire is tomorrow's 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, they're 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 absolutely essential.

-Wipes may be clean cloth, gauze, 4x4s etc. .
-Water is the best supply to bring - bring lots of it. It may have 4 drops per quart of homeopathic Rescue Remedy added.
-Normal Saline (0.9% sodium solution) may be substituted for water used for flushing eyes or cleaning wounds.

TEAR GAS & PEPPER SPRAY TREATMENT:

GENERAL TREATMENT FOR TEAR GAS (CS, CN) AND PEPPER SPRAY (OC)

BEFORE
-Practice first aid treatments before the action on each other so:
-You get experienced before you need to do treatments during an intense situation.
-You know what the treatment feels like.

DURING
-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 fresh air decontaminate you. Take slow deep breaths of clean air.
-Don't touch your eyes or your face, as you may re-contaminate yourself.
-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.

AFTERWARDS
-Decontaminate with a cold shower (keeps pores closed preventing chemica= ls 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. =B7 If possible, please change out of contaminated garments before entering enclosed spaces such as convergence and treatment areas.

SAFE SPACE Do treatments in a safe space - away from the danger of rioting police, or marching charging people. A safe space can also be at the front lines, surrounded in the arms of your comrades. Always have a buddy to help you - at least looking out for approaching danger. Safe spaces change, so keep that in mind if events are dynamic.

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.

EYE FLUSH
Best method: kneel person on ground, face is sideways and forward (so contaminated water drips on ground and not on clothes). Ask person if you can hold eyelids open (with clean gloved fingers only). Squirt or spray water on eye in the direction from nose to ear, 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 or LAW over closed eyelids. This brings soothing relief, even if unable to flush eyes. Follow with LAW eye drops (See below)

MOFIBA (for Pepper Spray) "Mineral Oil Followed Immediately By Alcohol "This is dangerous if not done precisely as it can burn skin! North American medics feel strongly that only first aiders trained to do MOFIBA treatments should do so - otherwise, it may cause more HARM than doing nothing!

Ingredients: Mineral Oil, Rubbing Alcohol, Clean Gauze or Cloth wipes.

Treatment:
1)Divide the face into quarters, and do one treatment per sections before proceding to the next. Wipe Mineral Oil on exposed skin. Keep away from eyelids, lips & nostrils. The mineral oil will trap the pepper chemicals, but doesn't neutralize it.
2)Immediately wipe off all Mineral Oil with Alcohol. All Mineral Oil Must Be Removed Or Else It Can Burn Skin!
3) May repeat several times. (Consider using the Liquid Antacid Water treatment after first application of MOFIBA).

Liquid Antacid Water - LAW Easy & Safe. This is a soothing tonic against the pepper spray burn to eyes= , mouth, mucus membranes and skin. Best used after initial pepper spray is removed with MOFIBA and eye flush.

Ingredients:
-Liquid Antacid (Maalox, Mylanta or generic equivalent with main and active ingredients of 200 mg magnesium and 225 mg aluminum hydroxides per serving) Unflavored is better.
-Water.
Solution: Mix equal amount of Liquid Antacid and Water into a bottle.
Treatment:
-Eyes: Drip a few drops of LAW into each open eye. Caution: After applying to eyes, vision will be cloudy for up to several minutes depending on how well tear ducts are working. Patient may not be able to safely move quickly.
-Mouth: Swish LAW in mouth and spit out.
-Skin: wipe on skin. It will leave a white cake-like layer.

GENERAL TREATMENT OF:
EYES
-If it hurts, don't rub it. Don't 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 - especially with pepper spray.
-Help others with impaired vision.
-Flush eyes with water (See Eye Flush).
-If suspecting eye injury, go to an ophthalmologist.

CONTACT LENSES
-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. =B7 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 as soon as possible. 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 - that's 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 - don't wear the fucking lenses!

LIPS
-Wash them out with water, and/or LAW.
-Lean forward so the contaminated chemicals fall directly on the ground, and not over you.

MOUTH
-Rinse & spit with water and/or LAW.

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, "I've got someone who is having breathing trouble and needs trained assistance". Encourage slow deep breaths.
- If someone is saying they can't breath and are talking, ask them if they have asthma or other respiratory problems. If they can speak, worry less, if they can't 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 assistance.
-Have person sit or kneel in safe area. Help them find a comfortable position to breathe.
-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 aren't very nutritious.
- With breathing problems from the back of throat - gargle and swallowing (which may wash down some of the chemicals that gargling can't reach) is OK ONLY if the person can safely swallow.
- If pain is from chest or behind breast bone, don't bother with water. 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 problems.
-Someone should 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 residue.
Wash and rinse your scalp and dreads thoroughly.
Washing your body thoroughly with unscented vegetable or castille soap (such as unscented Dr. Bronners) or vegetable soap such as olive oil soap, 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 skin.

Protection via skin barriers:
We have no reliable reports on skin applications like eggs, 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:
-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, water-repellent or non-absorbing materials (like cheap rain coats and pants) are better than cotton or wool which will soak up chemicals. 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 government.
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 should.
Alternatives to gas mask: sealed (swim) eye-goggles & respirator with filters designed for paint stripper or hazardous gases that cover nose & mouth. An apple-cider 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.

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. =B7 Tear gas (CN & CS) are solids at room temperature, and must be heated or sprayed to reach large numbers of people. The gas comes out like a grey smoke bomb, and blows with the wind.
-Tear gas is emitted from canisters which are fired into crowds. The canisters become extremely hot. Some have a detonator that explodes to release the gas - so don't pick up any canisters that haven't started emitting the gas yet - you could lose your hand. -Pick up canisters that are still smoking with heavy duty gloves only. Better to just kick them away if you must. Be extremely careful that you don't kick it into a group of your allies. Other ways to neutralize them is to dump snow or a bucket over them. And be aware that the time it takes you to throw it will allow you to be heavily exposed.

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 may be fear and panic to the uninitiated. Don't worry and don't panic. You will survive. People once gassed often get used to dealing with it.
-The severity of the effects depend on: the strength of the chemicals, 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 several 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 more severely. It will also contaminate others in the same space.
-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. Also, cool skin has closed pores - less chemicals enter the skin. Warm skin from heat, the sun or a warm water wash - will open pores allowing more chemicals in causing additional discomfort.
-Pepper Spray causes pain by stimulating chemical receptors in the skin, causing the release of a pain-causing chemical called "Substance P".
-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 spasm shut - especially with pepper spray (wear those goggles!). Eyes that don't get flushed with water may remain spasmed shut for up to a half hour.
-Nose may run.
-Regular breathing will become difficult. You are likely to cough.
-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. Treat red skin that looks like a sunburn, as if it is a first degree burn.
-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 chloride propellant.
=B7 Anger from Pepper Spray is common, and can be useful if you are prepared and able to focus it.
=B7 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.

Pepper Spray Concerns Since pepper spray is often sprayed at a close distance, the police may try to:
-Physically remove your goggles/ breathing protection.
-Spray between your face and your goggles/mask (which if your hands are locked down, makes them a trap for the chemical).
-It can be hazardous. People have died from respiratory failure (no protesters that we're aware of).
-Asthmatics should bring their bronchodilators.

Tear Gas & Pepper Spray Concerns -The propellants and/or active ingredients can cause cancer, are mutagenic and hence potentially teratogenic. One form of tear gas (CN) used during the WTO is 50% solvent - the solvent, methylene chloride, is a highly toxic chemical which can cause altered central nervous system function.

PLASTIC BULLETS 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 blind. If the police are using rubber bullets, avoid getting hit by them (like getting hit with a hockey puck).

Plastic Bullet Concerns -They may shatter and penetrate eye-glasses and gas-mask lens.

homepage: homepage: http://quebec@indymedia.org