Friday, March 15, 2013

People’s Community Medics (PCM)

The People's Community Medics can be reached at [510-239-7720], [], [], and can be heard on the radio most Saturday afternoons from 2 to 4 on Berkeley Liberation Radio, 104.1 fm and live streaming on the internet at [].
The People’s Community Medics (PCM) was founded in the summer of 2011 by Sharena Thomas and Lesley Phillips. While members of the Oscar Grant Committee we learned that the BART police refused to call an ambulance for 20 minutes for fatally wounded Oscar Grant, despite the passionate pleas for medical help from his friends who were detained at the Fruitvale station by the police. That experience as well as our knowledge that 911 calls often do not result in an ambulance arriving in a timely manner to Black neighborhoods largely inspired us to teach our people basic emergency first aid so that we can help one another until an ambulance arrives.
 We reached out to a fellow activist who is a healthcare worker and together we developed a training curriculum and learned how to treat seizures and bleeding traumas like gunshot wounds and stabbings. The PCM launched in March 2012; since then we have been giving free trainings on treating seizures, bleeding traumas and gunshot wounds to folks in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond.
 The People’s Community Medics is a collective of volunteers. Our members include a neurology nurse, students, a construction worker, parents and a retiree, among others. Sharena has previous medial training as a medical assistant. Lesley has no formal medical training, however, we are both Red Cross certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid for urban environments. We are both mothers, Lesley is a grandmother and we both have been active in our communities for many years.
 The People’s Community Medics’ trainings immediately resonate with people. We hope that one day every child will be taught basic first aid in school. We have been invited to present our training at various events and for different organizations. A few days before May Day 2012, a young man from Occupy Oakland came to the aid of a shooting victim and he utilized the first aid training he had learned from the PCM; the ambulance did not arrive for 47 minutes; unfortunately the woman succumbed to her injuries.
 At our trainings, we hand out free first aid packets that have gloves, gauze, an instruction sheet in English and Spanish, Emergen C (for diabetics) and a “know your rights” pocket card from Berkeley CopWatch. At some of our trainings we serve free, hot cooked food. Sometimes we have grocery bags full of food, free for the people. Much of the food is donated but plates and utensils, etc. are paid for out of pocket. Everything we give the people is free of charge; we are an all volunteer organization. We also have open mic speak-outs at some of our trainings.

"The People's Paramedics: Slow response times from first responders in Oakland have prompted a pair of activists to teach residents how to save lives — and perhaps unite against violence at the same time"
2013-02-13 by Joaquin Palomino from "Eastbay Express" []:

The first sixty minutes after someone is shot is commonly known as the "golden hour." The name refers to the fact that irreversible damage can occur in the first hour after someone suffers a profound shock. If a person is shot in the head or chest, or if a blood vessel is struck, the window for treatment can become much shorter. But gunshot victims in Oakland don't always receive prompt medical care. In fact, first responders can be dangerously slow to arrive on scene. As a result, some activists have started to teach local residents how to save lives.
According to data obtained from the Oakland Police Department, there were 36,236 high-priority 911 calls made in 2012 — most of which were for violent crimes. But it took the understaffed police department between ten and thirty minutes to arrive at 36 percent of those calls. In 13 percent of the cases, OPD showed up more than thirty minutes after the initial call for service.
Alameda County paramedics can almost always arrive at urban crime scenes in less than nine minutes, but for safety reasons they're prohibited from treating victims until police clear the scene. As a result, they must stage their ambulances blocks away from critically injured people as they wait for OPD to allow them in. "Paramedics can't just rush into a shooting scene," explained Fred Claridge, director of Alameda County's Emergency Medical Services. "They park a few blocks away and wait — and that's to preserve their own safety."
This makes police officers the first medical responders to most violent crimes in Oakland, and while they're required by state law to know how to treat gunshot wounds, they don't always make it a top priority. Sometimes officers will focus on gathering evidence and securing the scene before they help someone who's injured. "The officer has to weigh up between protecting the crime scene, protecting the victim, and protecting the integrity of what's going on around them," Oakland police union President Barry Donelan said in an interview last year. He added that "an officer's job is to take care of the victim, but to do that they have to stabilize the scene first."
OPD's poor response times, paired with officers' decisions to not treat injured citizens quickly, prompted East Oakland residents Sharena Thomas and Lesley Phillips to found the group The People's Community Medics last year. Both Thomas and Phillips have some medical training, and they teach citizens how to administer basic first aid to gunshot victims when police are slow to arrive and when paramedics are prohibited from providing help.
Since last March, The People's Community Medics have held workshops throughout Oakland, as well as in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Seattle. "At every training we've done someone says they've seen someone being shot, and they didn't know what to do — they just stood around and watched the person bleed out," said Thomas. "If those people knew how to treat a gunshot wound, maybe they could have saved a life."
At a first-aid training I attended in January, Phillips began by sharing the golden rule of medical care: "First and foremost, do no harm! I can't say it enough. If you don't know what to do, then don't do anything at all." She and Thomas then covered the legal and moral issues that arise when assisting crime victims. They finished with a skit detailing how exactly to treat and dress a gunshot wound.
"You have to find the entrance and the exit wounds," said Thomas. "Once you've located them apply firm pressure to both holes. If possible, wear rubber gloves and use a barrier, such as gauze, to stop the bleeding." Phillips handed out packets containing both of these items, along with medical instructions.
While the information the group provides is basic, The People's Community Medics is filling a growing gap in Oakland. The police department, which has two hundred fewer officers today than it had three years ago, has become increasingly unreliable during times of crisis. And technical mistakes made by the department over the years have further hampered first responders. An auditor's report released last August showed that the OPD's Computer Aided Dispatching system is inefficient and outdated. If it were replaced, officers could more effectively be routed to crime scenes. Last year, $1.2 million was available to replace the system, however, OPD squandered the money due to poor communication with the Department of Information Technology. According to Sergeant Christopher Bolton, chief of staff to Police Chief Howard Jordan, the department is preparing to roll out a new deployment system, but it's unclear when it will be up and running.
"We don't want to always be complaining about resources," Bolton said. "It's incumbent on us to come up with ways to deploy the officers and meet the community's expectations, and response time, especially in the most urgent of matters, is probably the most fundamental expectation that people require of their police department."
The gunshot tracking system ShotSpotter also has the potential to quicken OPD's response to gun crimes, but for the past five years it's been underutilized. ShotSpotter can give an officer the exact location of gunfire within 45 seconds. Last year, the system recorded about 3,000 gunshots in Oakland, or roughly eight a day. While some cities have used ShotSpotter to significantly reduce gunfire, budget problems have prevented OPD from making good use of the technology — less than half the city is serviced by ShotSpotter, and the majority of recorded gunshots aren't investigated. However, in a few months the city will expand the ShotSpotter service area to cover about 80 percent of Oakland, which Sergeant Bolton contends will help OPD combat gun crime. "It's extremely valuable for response time, evidence collections, determining where scenes are," he said. "It's just an amazing system."
Thomas and Phillips, meanwhile, are not only hoping to empower citizens to help injured people in need, but they also hope their work will unite community members against violence.
At a first-aid training put on by the group last September, a young woman shared her experience helping a gunshot victim near Arroyo Viejo Park in East Oakland. "I was sitting in the park when I heard rapid gunfire and I saw smoke clearing just at the other end of the field," she said. The woman knew basic first aid and CPR, so she did something courageous: She ran to the scene. She found a man with four gunshot wounds. "He was shot once in the head, once in the arm, once in the stomach, and once in the leg." The woman covered three of the four wounds, and held the man firmly for what she estimated to be 25 minutes, until the paramedics arrived. The man was seriously injured, but he survived. "I thank God that I knew what to do, and was able to help. ... Most people, when they hear shots, their instinct is to go running, but when something like that happens, we've got to come together as a community."
The People's Community Medics believe they can inspire more people to act similarly. They've already received reports back from people who've used their training in Oakland and San Francisco. And over the longterm, they want to change the way people think about violence. "I feel that if people start to know these skills, and they know how to save a life, they might not be so quick to take a life," said Phillips. "If you're teaching how to save life, that's love."

Special message from the People's Community Medics, 2014-03:
The People's Community Medics are proud to announce that we are a recipient of the 2014 People’s Life Fund from the Northern California War Tax Resistance. Grants of resisted war taxes will be given out on the Sunday before Tax Day, April 13th, 5:30-7:30 pm at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1606 Bonita Ave. Berkeley. We encourage folks to bring a potluck dish to share. Everyone is welcome. Please join us; we look forward to seeing you there! For more information about War Tax Resistance, check out [].

WED. MARCH 5, 2014 - People's Community Medics will be at One Fam Political Education Night

People’s Community Medics presents...
Free Emergency First Aid Training at Co-OP
Monday, September 9, 2013
At the Family Paths’ Main Office, at The Grove Building [1727 MLK Jr. Way, Oakland, Ca. 94612]
The Consortium of Oakland Providers (Co-OP) is featuring a free emergency first aid training by the People’s Community Medics at their monthly gathering. All are welcome to attend. Please RSVP (see below). Looking forward to seeing you there.
Arrive at 5pm for snacks and bring your organization’s printed materials for our Community Resource table. Or simply represent by showing up. Park in our lot off 18th St. or walk 3 blocks west from 19th Street BART.
EACH ONE, TEACH ONE. Please RSVP! Contact Kim Cohn Wilks, MFT, RDT/BCT [] [510-893-9230 X 262]. The Consortium of Oakland Providers (“the Co-OP”) creates opportunities for neighborhood and community-based entities to convene, share information and establish working relationships with each other as allies on the frontlines of direct community service

2013-01-27 message from Shareena, member of the People's Community Medics:

2013-01-19 "People's Community Medics - Free Emergency First Aid Training" 
SATURDAY, 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Phat Beets Produce and The Crossroads Cafe is hosting the People’s Community Medics as part of the Food N' Justice Workshop Series.
[peoplescommunitymedics (]
We will give our emergency first aid workshop at 942 Stanford Street @ Lowell in North Oakland (near Market St.) at the North Oakland farmers market. (
Learn what to do before 911 arrives in communities that experience injuries, street and/or domestic violence and are neglected by thesystem.  You will learn how to treat seizures and bleeding traumas like stabbings and gunshots.
Knowing that 911 calls often do not result in an ambulance arriving in a timely manner to Black, Brown and poor neighborhoods largely inspired us to teach our people basic emergency first aid so that we can help one another until an ambulance arrives.
This is a free event.

2012-11-24 Benefit Fundraiser for the People’s Community Medics"
Saturday, 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.
@ the Eastbay Jazz Workshop [6604 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94608]

The People’s Community Medics can be heard on Berkeley Liberation Radio, 104.1 fm [] Saturday from 2 to 4.
2012-11-25 message from "People's Community Medics" [peoplescommunitymedics (]:
Many thanks and much gratitude to everyone who came out (physically and on-line via WePay) and supported the People’s Community Medics at our first fundraising party yesterday, Saturday, November 24. We raised a few hundred dollars, but most importantly we were able to spend time with family, friends and comrades sharing and spreading love.
At 3:05 p.m. (the party officially started at 3:00 p.m.) Sharena got a call from a sista, who was on her way, that a shooting had happened just 6 blocks from us. Four of us grabbed gloves and gauze and jumped in Sharena’s car. The police were there and OFD paramedics were attending to the young man who was shot before getting on his bicycle. The ambulance arrived about 2 minutes after we had (about 30 minutes from the time of the shooting).
At least 30 people were watching from a distance on the sidewalk leaving enough space for the paramedics. While the victim was in the street, the police made us back down the sidewalk as they began to put up yellow tape. We asked the people around if they knew who the young man was but no one knew.
We had to go back to our party but we felt stunned and shook up, it made us cry thinking of what that teenager’s fate might be. It was suggested that we go back to the spot and do a training. We would have wanted to go after the party but it was too dark so we decided to go the next morning.
On Sunday morning on the way to the shooting location we learned that the 19 year old young man had died and was the 113th killing in Oakland; a little over 12 hours later the number of killings rose to 115. His name was not released. When we arrived at the spot we talked to people, passed out some of our flyers, got a sista’s phone number, talked to a store owner and bought some candles from him to place near the spot we saw the teenager dying. A reporter from KTVU arrived and asked to interview us. We did the interview but we need to tell our story and don't think a Fox affiliate can even get anywhere near telling our story competently.
These past 24 hours have been filled with trauma and intense emotions. We’ve shed tears for another young black male who died from violence on the street; a young man who should have died of old age. None of the people who saw him with gunshot wounds administered emergency first aid; not because they didn’t care, but because they didn’t know basic emergency first aid.
Maybe if one knows how to save a life they won’t want to take a life. Our goal is for everyone to know how to treat a gunshot wound and know basic first aid.
Towards justice,

2012-09-09  People's Community Medics presents "FREE EMERGENCY FIRST AID TRAINING
Sunday, 1:00 pm
Arroyo Viejo Park located at 7701 Krause Street in East Oakland (near Bancroft and 77th Avenue). 
Please join us for a FREE event! We will have a free training in honor of Dionne Smith-Downs, the mother of James Rivera, Jr. who was assassinated by Stockton Police and County Sheriffs in June of 2010
The day will include:
* Emergency First Aid training for Seizures & Gun Shot Wounds & Other Bleeding Trauma
* Free Emergency First Aid Packets
* SPEAKOUT - say what's on your mind and get involved
* Free Food
Justice for James Rivera, Jr.! Justice for Alan Blueford! Justice for all victims of police violence!!
"People's Community Medics" giving presentation on providing emergency care to stroke and gunshot victims.

"People's Community Medics" members Anita Wills and Lesley Tiyesha Phillips stand behind free groceries for community members. Also chicken, salad, mashed potatoes, corn and black bean lasagna free to the public, food provided by Angel and Jabari Shaw.

2012-07-22: The People's Community Medics writes -
Up early, just heard a round of gun fire exchanged...
putting my shoes on about to take a walk someone my need me...

2012-04-30 message from "People's Community Medics"

Greetings Friends,
“Brandi, a transwoman, was murdered Saturday night, shot at 13th and Franklin in Downtown Oakland after an altercation with a man who became enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans. An amazing #oo comrade tried to keep her alive with training learned from the People’s Community Medics, but the cops walked away and the ambulance came too late”  (from Occupy Patriarchy)
The young man who aided this young trans-woman is from Occupy Oakland and he learned the basic first aid for treating gunshot wounds from the People's Community Medics at one of the #OO Barbeques.  Evidently the police were there and were doing nothing but letting him provide first aid (police are not trained in first aid).  In fact there is an OPD policy that permits the police to stop a civilian from providing first aid, however, in this instance they did not follow that policy.  Yet it took the ambulance 30 minutes to arrive; the young comrade stayed with her applying pressure to the gun shot wound;  she was alive still when the ambulance finally arrived, however, she succumbed to her wounds after the ambulance was on the scene.
Each one teach one. 
One love,
The People's Community Medics

The PEOPLE'S COMMUNITY MEDICS will be giving a free emergency first aid training on Saturday, March 31 at 3:30 p.m. at the Oakland Occupy BBQ at 52nd and MLK Blvd.
The Occupy Oakland BBQ will last from 2pm to 6pm and is in support of the North Oakland Neighborhood Assembly & the fight to save Santa Fe Elementary. HEPAC will be providing free HIV tests on site and passing out condoms and safe sex kits! + Workshops from the Foreclosure Defense Committee and more.
Hope to see you there!

Please join us for a FREE event Saturday, March 17th at 12pm at Arroyo Viejo Park located at 7701 Krause Street in East Oakland (near Bancroft and 77th street). The day will include invaluable:
Emergency First Aid training
Know Your Rights workshop
SPEAKOUT - this is our opportunity to say what's on our minds and get involved
(provided by Occupy Oakland)
Hope to see you there!

2012-03-01 "Introducing..." message from "People's Community Medics": Greetings Friends and Community, We are emailing to introduce a new network: The People’s Community Medics.
This project was partially inspired by the revelations of an Oakland Paramedic investigator who blew the whistle on the medical mistreatment of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station.
Oscar, like many victims of police violence, did not receive proper medical treatment after he was shot by BART police. The 911 responders did not adequately cover the exit wound from the bullet that punctured Oscar's back and he suffered for over 4 hours before succumbing to his injuries.  Perhaps Oscar’s life could have been saved if paramedics had properly cared for the bleeding trauma he experienced. . . we will never know.
Unfortunately, in low-income and communities of color--calling 911 does not guarantee an ambulance nor adequate health care when paramedics arrive. Because of this inequality, we have lost numerous loved ones unnecessarily.  We know that 911 is a joke (as the rap group Public Enemy said so long ago) and that our people have been suffering from a lack of proper medical treatment.
The People’s Community Medics is starting a project to work with the larger community in taking what's most important into our hands – matters of our health and safety.
You can reach us at 510-239-7720 or
The People’s Community Medics are on the air every Saturday from 2 to 4 on Berkeley Liberation Radio, 104.1 fm or [].

1 comment: