ANON MEDIC PRIMER – Version 1.0
Anonymous has evolved.
Originally a nebulous collective dedicated to waging electronic warfare against disparate
groups, Anonymous moved our actions into the real world with the advent of Operation
Clambake, an anti-Church of Scientology information and protest movement in 2008.
The Chanology protests simultaneously assembled thousands of Anons all over the
world to voice our objections to the corrupt and exploitative practices of Scientology.
Now, following multiple episodes of police brutality in the San Francisco and Los
Angeles areas, Anonymous is expanding again, now standing in direct opposition to
armed government institutions such as the San Francisco and Fullerton Police
Departments, as well as the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police.
Confronting a paramilitary force–which has repeatedly shown itself to be both erratic
and violent in response to imagined threats–means that Anonymous itself must change
to meet the challenges of street-level activism. Every army has its medical corps, and
we are the Anonymous Street Medics.
Street medics are not a new concept. Originally seen during the African-American Civil
Rights Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War, street medics are volunteer
activists who attend political actions equipped with the knowledge and inventory
necessary to give medical aid to protesters and civilians in need. As social movements
gain momentum and attract attention, they become increasingly likely to come up
against those who would maintain the status quo, rather than allow meaningful change
–in short, the State. Metropolitan police represent the most immediate physical threat to
those who attempt to change the system, even via peaceful means. A demand as
simple as “please stop shooting unarmed citizens on public transit platforms” can and
will be met with violent resistance from the state and its police force.
Into this volatile situation, where there exists a real threat of violence perpetrated
against protest movements, come street medics. This guide hopes to serve as both a
basic primer for those hoping to take a medical role in situations of civil unrest, as well
as a set of guidelines for anyone wishing to identify as an Anon Medic.
The amount of training one seeks out before becoming a street medic varies, depending
on the duties one intends to perform during political action. Donʼt mislead other activists
about your level of medical training or competency–be upfront with them about your
supplies and abilities. It is better that they call for outside medical assistance
immediately, rather than wait to find you, only to hear that you cannot treat them. That
said, one need not do more than carry water for other protesters, or bandages, or
sunscreen, to make a difference. Even this minor effort can mean the difference
between activists staying in the street, or having to go home for water, food, or medical
When a potential medic decides to start offering protest support, they should consider
taking a professional first aid/CPR course. Learning proper treatment techniques for
cuts, bruises, and other injuries is important, as inexperienced attempts at administering
aid can potentially worsen an injury and leave the wounded worse off than they would
have been without your intervention. This is another reason itʼs extremely important to
be honest with yourself and your fellow protesters about your level of medical ability.
Further study can include training as an Emergency Medical Technician, Wilderness
First Responder, or Paramedic. These require increasing levels of time and financial
investment, so use your own judgment about how much time and money you can
expend. Potential medics employed by institutions that may take issue with their
involvement in political action (such as ambulance crews, government organizations,
and so on) would do well to disguise themselves as fully as possible before being seen
and photographed taking part in any activism.
Disclaimer: Recently, the street medic community has seen a large influx of medics
practicing herbalism, eastern medicine, and other “alternative therapies”. Ultimately it is
an individual decision to use these techniques or not, but the Anonymous Street Medics
are strongly in favor of scientifically proven medicine and as such cannot condone
alternative medicine under any circumstances, particularly “homeopathy”.
Street medicine is an inherently defensive action, as it is a direct response to offensive
violence by the police. Medics should equip themselves accordingly. Inventory should
be dictated by potential opposition, which can vary widely when confronting a heavily-
armed, paranoid police force. Equipping oneself on the side of caution is advisable, as
one well-protected medic can do far more good than three medics who fell to tear gas.
Below is a guideline inventory list for a well-equipped medic. Add or remove from this
list as personal weight limit, resources, expected challenges, and range of motion
Clothing that covers as much skin as possible, without being overly hot or restrictive.
Remember: you may have to run. SF Anon Medics wear black clothing with red medical
crosses, to make themselves easy to find in crowds. Nylon will dissipate heat and
sweat easily, as well as protect the skin (to some degree) against chemical agents. DO
NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES. Tear gas or pepper spray can become trapped
between the contact lenses, and your eyes. Cargo pants or BDUs with accessible
pockets can come in handy, as can hip bags, utility belts or tackle vests.
Gas mask, tested to be sure of a good seal. Something recently-manufactured with a
40mm threading will be the most reliable and compatible with easily-found filters. Israeli
civilian gas masks are inexpensive and easy to find. Check websites like
Sportsmansguide.com for military surplus supplies.
Unbroken NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) gas mask filter.
Protective shoes that will still allow quick movement. No open toed, strappy, or high-
heeled shoes. You may need to run, and your toes will be stepped on in crowds.
Ace (or equivalent) bandages for strains and splinting.
Wound closure strips
Tape (paper or plastic, not electrical)
Sterile examination gloves (vinyl or nitrile, to avoid latex allergies)
Stick-on bandages (various size and type)
Isopropyl alcohol (strongest concentration you can find)
Antihemorrhagic agent (Most of these are only available to military or law enforcement,
but QuikClot has a “sport” version that will do the trick)
Sunblock with UVA and UVB protection (water or alcohol-based, as oil-based sunblock
can trap teargas or pepper spray against your skin and compound their effects)
Bandage shears (blunt tip is important, as a sharp tip can be deliberately misinterpreted
as a weapon by the police, and used to charge you with crimes)
Clean bandanas, and/or bandanas soaked in apple cider vinegar, for handing out to
other protesters as tear gas masking.
Instant ice packs
Shoulder or messenger bag that can be easily accessed without the medic having to
stop and take it off. Backpacks can be difficult to access while youʼre walking, running,
or otherwise trying to keep up with your fellow activists, who may be marching, or
running from danger.
Cake icing or other emergency sugar supply, to treat diabetes-related hypoglycemia.
Apple cider vinegar (for tear gas, see below)
LAW mixture (see below)
Rehydration mixture (see below)
Ear plugs for yourself and others in case of sound-based police weapons.
What is LAW mixture?
Liquid Antacid and Water. A 50/50 mixture of water and an antacid containing either
Magnesium Hydroxide or Aluminium Hydroxide. Used on eyes and skin in the event of a
tear gas or pepper spray attack. A small amount applied directly to the affected area
should be sufficient to reduce pain once the afflicted person has been moved to a safe
What is Rehydration Mixture?
Hydration in a high-energy environment is extremely important, and often overlooked. A
medic’s most important job will often be to make sure participants in civil action do not
wear themselves out early. Side effects of heat exhaustion can include euphoria, rage,
“wooziness”, irritability, panting, red flushing of the skin, and “spaciness”. These
symptoms can also lead to poor decision making, violence, and an inability to judge
danger or to retreat from dangerous areas. Untreated heat exhaustion can turn into the
more serious condition of heat stroke. A 50/50 mixture of water and a sport drink (or
fruit juice) will be sufficient. A small pinch of salt should be added to the mixture, to
replace sodium lost through sweat. Fill and label several small bottles with this mixture
to pass out to those in need. If using sport drink for your mixture, avoid sport drinks with
Red 5 food dye, as there is research to suggest that it can trigger manic episodes in
people with certain conditions such as ADHD or Bipolar Disorder. The number of
bottles carried should vary, depending on the medicʼs weight limit. See more on the
treatment of heat exhaustion below.
3. Anon Medic Philosophy
Street medics are not trauma surgeons, nor are they a viable replacement for
emergency services, regardless of their level of experience. The job of a street medic is
not to perform battlefield surgery, but to provide what care they can within the context of
a chaotic situation, or (in the case of major injuries) to attempt to comfort, protect, and/
or stabilize an injured party until they can be moved into professional care. To waste
valuable time trying to “fix” an injury that needs an ambulance does no more good than
no care at all, which makes it extremely important to recognize when an injury is beyond
Anon Medics vary in expertise and experience from rank amateurs with basic first aid
kits, to Wilderness Rescuers, EMTs, and military medical professionals. At the
beginning of each Op, we announce and publicize the supplies and abilities we will
bring to that particular protest. We also remind activists of things they can do to take
care of themselves:
bring a snack
bring three daysʼ supply of any prescription medication you may be on, in the original
prescription bottle, with a doctorʼs note.
We also announce (via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) what we will be wearing,
including any specific medical insignia, to familiarize the activists with our appearance,
and make us easy to find in case of injury.
Anon Medics are important not only because of the physical services they provide, but
because of the moral and psychological boost that the presence of support personnel
imbues in a group. It is important that the other protesters feel they can rely on you,
even if itʼs just for backup and encouragement. This is why itʼs vital to be very clear
about your level of competency and training: the worst case scenario is that you are
expected to deal with an injury that you cannot handle, and then fail to do so,
discouraging your fellow activists and losing trust in street medics generally. Do your
best, but never bluff or bluster. Help people as much as possible, but never get in over
your head. Keep your mobile phone handy in case you need to call emergency
services–sometimes just being there with someone, able to calmly relay information
about their location and condition to a dispatcher, is a service no one else can render.
A note on the Anon Medic ʻuniformʼ: during opBART, the Anon Medics wore clean,
stylish, well-fitted black pants and jackets, with red crosses, black gloves, and the Anon
Medic signature: matte black Guy Fawkes masks. The black masks identified them as
Anonymous, concealed their identities from the press and police, and separated them
from the naturally-colored masks of non-medical anon protesters so that they could be
found easily. The red and black color scheme is professional, while still being clearly
counter-cultural. And lastly, this ensemble proved popular with the press and
photographers. More pictures means more visibility, more visibility means more people
hear and see the protests, and the presence of Medics makes our cause look like a
force to be reckoned with. Join Us, the medics say, Weʼve Got Your Back.
We encourage new Anon Medics to adopt whatever clothing they see fit. However, if
medics are interested in being visually associated with each other, the color scheme,
general silhouette, and especially the flat black mask are worth consideration. In our
age of constant surveillance, photo ops, and live feeds, presenting a united visual front
is invaluable. The SF Anon Medics were stopped a dozen times by people with
cameras, and had many opportunities to discuss our cause with the citizens.
This being said, practical and environmental considerations should always be a top
priority for a medic assembling an outfit. Wearing bulky or dark-colored clothing to an
operation where 100o temperatures are expected will see you out of action relatively
quickly. Adapt and modify as concerns warrant.
Additionally, it is worth noting that masks, particularly black ones, are both intimidating
and alien. When treating an injured person–particularly one who may be suffering from
psychological trauma, or who is panicking–letting them see your face, particularly your
eyes, may be important. Use your judgement.
WARNING: street medics are often targeted specifically by police. The police “disperse
a crowd” via fear, injury, incapacitation, and arrest, and medics provide the means for
protesters to get back up, and keep marching, even after tear gas or pepper spray
attacks. This can make medics priority targets to police. During the April 2001 protest
of the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement in Quebec City, police shot chemical-
weapons canisters directly at the medics themselves after they realized the medics
were re-commissioning activists whoʼd been taken out with tear gas. Additionally, police
departments make a point of publishing the names and photos of arrested protesters for
reasons of shaming them, and discouraging new activists from joining future protests.
A note on arrest: being arrested in furtherance of a cause or for solidarity with oneʼs
fellow protesters is, generally, a noble act. That being said, a medic who intentionally
subjects themselves to arrest to prove a point only prematurely removes themselves
from action, and deprives comrades of future treatment, should they become injured. In
the event of your arrest, it is generally advisable to remain completely silent until you
have the opportunity to request and speak with a lawyer. Writing the phone number for
your organization of choice on your arm with a marker is also a sound course of action,
as it is unlikely the police will facilitate your forgetfulness once you are in their custody,
and strip searches and appropriation of clothing/personal items is common during
arrests. Police are known for capriciously adding as many additional charges as they
can for protesters who cause them trouble (that is to say, all of them), making struggling,
threats, or false names ill-advised. Barring extenuating circumstances, one can expect
to be cited out of jail within a matter of hours after their arrest.
4. How to Treat Various Common Protest Injuries
Please note that this section, for the most part, does not cover injuries and treatment
methods typically covered in most first aid courses. This section is specifically for
injuries and ailments more specifically sustained during protest action.
The most important thing to note about tear gas is that it is a tool to create fear, more
than a weapon to cause damage. The loud sound of exploding canisters and the sight
of a rolling cloud of gas serves to cause panic before the chemical effects even have a
chance to take hold, and it is on this panic that the police rely. The most important thing
to do in the event of a tear gas attack is to keep a level head. As a medic, it will be your
duty to get others away from the gas, then treat them to the best of your abilities.
Though banned from military use by the Chemical Weapons Convention, tear gas is
legal for domestic use despite a long list of documented harmful or deadly effects.
Tear gas is often propelled by special fitted charges which, when detonated, can sound
extremely similar to gunfire. Donʼt panic. Look up to try to spot the arc of white smoke,
and attempt to warn any protesters within the anticipated blast radius. Tear gas
canisters, once detonated, become extremely hot and are not safe to handle without
protective gloves. This is one reason that it is important to bring or wear protective
gloves to protests. Police officers using tear gas will be outfitted to protect against its
effects, so throwing or kicking an active canister back into police lines should not be
considered a violent or harmful action, merely a defensive one. Spotting police in these
outfits can also serve as advance warning of an impending tear gas attack, allowing you
to warn your fellow protesters before the canisters have actually been fired.
The initial effects of tear gas, which if left untreated will persist for up to half an hour
after exposure, usually include pain in the eyes, nose, mouth and skin, profuse watering
of the eyes and nose, blindness, difficulty breathing, disorientation, and panic. Again,
tear gas is not intended as a weapon so much as an agent to disperse protesters and
create fear among them, making it possible for an affected party to remain within the
cloud so long as they maintain a clear head. Once removed from the area of the gas,
the symptoms will subside on their own within approximately thirty minutes, but it is still
important to act quickly to ensure the well-being of the afflicted party, if you wish them to
be able to continue normally.
Though it is called a gas, tear gas is actually an aerosolized acidic powder. Designed to
cause fear and pain, its acidic nature makes it relatively easy to counter with the use of
a mild alkaline solution, and the powder form is easy to wash off. The easiest method in
this circumstance is to use the LAW mixture, noted above. After removing the affected
party to a safe location outside the field of effect, a squirt of liquid on the skin and in the
eyes should serve to both neutralize the acid and wash the dust itself away completely.
A mouthful of solution, swirled and spat, will serve to quickly clear the mouth. Care
should be taken not to swallow, as tear gas introduced into the digestive system could
have potentially harmful effects. To clear the nose, strong exhalation should be enough.
The LAW mixture is not a cure-all, and will not instantaneously remove harmful effects.
Remember: Tear gas is a compound specifically designed for this purpose, and
countering it will always be a challenge.
To further compound matters, once a person has been coated with tear gas their
clothing is contaminated until it can be washed. It will continue to be harmful to wear or
handle, and should be removed and quarantined as quickly as possible to avoid causing
more damage. A mild castille soap (like Dr. Bronnerʼs), which contains fewer chemicals
to potentially interact with the acid, will be enough to clean the contaminated clothing
and make it suitable for future use. Instruct all affected parties to avoid touching their
face or eyes until they have had a meticulous shower.
The effects of tear gas can be avoided to some extent by covering the mouth with a
bandana soaked in vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will be the easiest to breathe, and
several such bandanas can be prepared in advance and kept in a plastic bag to be
handed out to those nearby. This method is useful only for purposes of escape, and a
medic should not attempt to enter a tear gas cloud without wearing a fitted and filtered
military-grade gas mask.
2. Pepper Spray
Pepper spray, like tear gas, is a lachrymatory agent–a compound designed, usually for
riot control or self defense, to cause pain, blindness, and disorientation. Pepper spray is
often deployed at protests in areas where the police cannot risk the use of tear gas,
such as heavily populated areas. It is usually contained in handheld canisters, though a
mode of deployment known as the “pepperball” has become increasingly common in
recent years. The pepperball consists of a load of capsaicin (the active ingredient in
pepper spray) combined with a powder dye, packed into a small hard ball which is fired
from a device not unlike a paintball gun. The ball breaks and explodes on contact,
causing both the immediate pain of being shot with a projectile with the debilitating
effects of pepper spray. This allows the police to use pepper spray from much longer
distances, as well as mark individuals (via the powder dye) for later arrest.
Though not as common, another documented method for deploying pepper spray is a
thick pepper foam, deployed from a device like a fire extinguisher. It is currently
unknown how widespread these devices are. Further deployment methods include
backpack dispensers, explosive aerosol canisters, and helicopter drops.
Treatment methods for pepper spray exposure are largely the same as those for tear
gas, and the LAW mixture will serve you approximately as well as anything else.
However, because of its concentration and the way it directly attacks nerve endings,
pepper spray can continue to have an effect for up to two hours after initial exposure,
even with treatment.
3. Environmental Illness
Environmental factors are always a serious consideration when one intends to undergo
hours of strenuous outdoor activity. Hypothermia, frostbite, exhaustion, and heat stroke
are all possibilities depending on the weather, and a medic should take care to amend
their equipment accordingly. Keeping an eye on oneʼs fellow protesters for signs of
illness should usually be enough, and gentle suggestions to take some water, or to
temporarily remove themselves to more agreeable climates, will usually be appreciated.
3a. Signs of Heat Illness
Heat illness (a general term encompassing a variety of heat-related ailments) is an
extremely common problem in civil action, due to the long periods of exertion protesters
put themselves through with little to no hydration. Body fluids are lost through sweat and
respiration, and if they are not replaced, the core body temperature can rise
dangerously. Frequent rest and rehydration are usually enough to prevent symptoms,
but be on the lookout in the event that they are not:
Rapid breathing or “panting”
Muscle cramping or spasms
Skin irritation, “flushing”, or rash
Heat illness is not difficult to prevent, provided one pays sufficient attention to the bodyʼs
needs. It will often be a medicʼs job to pay attention on behalf of other protesters, as
they will likely be preoccupied. The United States Occupational Safety and Health
administration provides the following guidelines for preventing heat stress:
Know the signs and symptoms of heat illness
Block out direct sun and other heat sources
Rest regularly, use cooling systems
Drink sufficient water
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in light colors
Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or heavy meals.
In colder environments, it will be your job to keep watch over your fellow protesters to
ensure their safety against the elements. Hypothermia, much like heat exhaustion, is
relatively easy to combat: Minor preventative actions can be taken to avoid it, but after it
has taken hold the afflicted party can simply be moved to a more agreeable climate and
given easy remedies. In this circumstance, the remedy can be as simple as a warm
blanket. Medics should take care to look for the following symptoms, ordered according
to increasing severity:
Heightened heart rate
Lack of coordination
Blue tinge to the extremities
Further lack of coordination
“Terminal burrowing” (though it is extremely unlikely any protester will ever get to this
level of hypothermia, final-stage sufferers exhibit a tendency to “burrow” behind or
under objects or into soft ground)
People showing any of the bottom two-thirds of this list should be removed to warmer
environments immediately. Given time and warmth they should make a full recovery.
4. Basic Bandaging
Bandaging and wound treatment are taught in first aid courses. The following is
extremely basic, common-sense advice but does not replace first aid training in any
way. If you wish to offer serious flesh wound treatment to your fellow activists, please
attend a first aid course before considering yourself capable of dressing wounds beyond
a band-aid level.
Sterile bandages are ideal for this task, but in an emergency, any type of clean cloth will
work. A variety of types of dressings and bandages are necessary to address injuries of
different size and location, making a properly stocked first aid kit a priority for any medic.
Disinfect the wound using a splash of isopropyl alcohol
Cover the entire wound using a suitably-sized dressing, such as a gauze pad or
Depending on the size of the dressing required, secure it using either tape or a bandage
Tie or tape off the bandage if one is required
Do not over-tighten the dressing or bandage, as this can cause additional swelling
This method should be sufficient for most simple scrapes and scratches. More serious
flesh wounds should be cleaned out with alcohol and wrapped to protect and stabilize
them to the best of your ability, while you are getting the injured person to help and
safety in the meantime. Wounds that look like they could require stitches (deep, gaping,
or large wounds; wounds that donʼt stop bleeding on their own within a couple minutes,
and so on) should be disinfected and covered to the best of your ability, after you have
ensured emergency services have been called.
Even if a protester has been seriously injured, it is entirely possible (and precedented)
for the police to refuse emergency teams access past their lines into “unsecured areas”.
Though street medics have been known to act as liaisons between protesters and
police and negotiate passage for ambulances or injured persons, the possibility that
advanced medical help could be denied to an injured party is always there.
5. Join Us
Like other branches of Anonymous, we have no hierarchy. There exist no central figures
to report to, no council to approve your actions or review your application to join. The
guidelines here represent what we, as founders, would have this branch become, but
ultimately it will be the will of the collective that decides what is or is not acceptable
conduct from an anon medic. Anonymous has a relatively poor reputation in the eyes of
the general public, due to the tendency for independent cells to attribute their actions to
the group as a whole, so the existence of a purely defensive, put-together, well-spoken
faction could be important for large-scale perception of the group as a whole. It is our
sincere hope that those identifying as Anon Medics would hold themselves to a higher
standard of civil conduct and intelligent discourse.
Just as street medics themselves are not a viable replacement for emergency services,
this guide in no way approaches a replacement for actual first aid and street medic
training. It exists to serve as a basic introduction to both the idea of street medics, and
to the Anon Medic branch specifically. For further information on street medic training in
your area, contact the following groups:
Rosehip Medic Collective – http://www.rosehipmedics.org/
Black Cross Collective (Currently inactive) – http://www.blackcrosscollective.org/
Seattle Street Medical Collective – http://seattlemedics.org/
Olympia Street Medic Collective – http://blog.olysmc.org/
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Bay Area Radical Health Collective – http://barhc.w2c.net/
Denver Streetmedics – http://streetmedic.wordpress.com/
EAST COAST, US
Mutual Aid Street Medics – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago Action Medics
Heartland Action Medical Resistance
North Star Health Collective – http://northstarhealth.wordpress.com/
Boston Area Liberation Medic Squad – http://www.bostoncoop.net/balm/
District Action Medical Network – http://damn.mahost.org/
NEW YORK, NY
Medical Activists of New York – http://www.takethestreets.org/
Star of Resistance Medics – http://www.freewebs.com/stormnyc/
Three Rivers Action Medics – http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/tram/
Phoenix Urban Health Collective – http://puhc.wordpress.com/
Activist Medics Network
Demosaniteter.de – http://www.demosanitaeter.de/
Strassenmedizin – http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/sanis/index.htm
UK Action Medics – http://www.actionmedics.org.uk/
8/27 v1.0 – Initial Release