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Boston Area Liberation Medic (BALM) Squad

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Welcome to the DNC Medical Organizing Page!

Please note that this page contains historical information regarding medical organizing for the 2004 DNC protests. Links on this page may no longer be valid. We are retaining this page on our Web site for reference and documentary purposes only.

We have put this page together to provide a place to gather DNC Medical Organizing Group policies, organizing principles, and other important information for people who plan to help provide medical support for the DNC protests.

For basic information and suggestions about health and wellness during the DNC protests, please see the recommended reading for the DNC on our home page.

If you need housing for the DNC, we encourage you to check out the Bl(a)ck Tea Society's Housing Board at There are boards for general housing and medic-only housing.

If you need general orientation-type info about Boston, we suggest you check out the excellent Boston Guide on the Bl(a)ck Tea Society's Web site at

Information about ongoing DNC medical organizing efforts can be found on the DNC Medical Organizing Group listserv. The archive for this list is at

If you have any questions about the information on this page, or if you are coming to the DNC and plan to provide medical support and you have not contacted us previously, please send us e-mail at or call us at 857-891-1666 and leave a message to let us know who you are, when you will be arriving, something about your medical training/experience, if you need housing, plus your contact info. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you are coming to the DNC protests, we strongly suggest you bring your own medic supplies, as we will not be able to provide additional supplies for medics. We also recommend that you arrange for legal and emotional support for yourself before you leave for Boston.

Information Found on This Page

All of us who are planning to help provide health care for the DNC will be held accountable for following the Points of Unity we have created with the input and assistance of dozens of street medics. We have created the Points of Unity in order to facilitate street medics and other health care providers working together to offer the best care to people during the DNC.

DNC Medic Points of Unity

The DNC Medical Organizing Group, which started as the Boston Area Liberation Medic Squad (BALM Squad), has formally approved the following points of unity.

We are really excited to work with lots of different people, and hope that these points of unity will make our hopes and expectations clear.

If you plan to come to work as a medic at the DNC, please read them carefully. We will all be held accountable to these points of unity.

In solidarity,
the DNC Medical Organizing Group

Points of Unity for health care providers working with the DNC Medical Organizing Group at the DNC protests

We are excited to have lots of people working with us to provide health care support during the DNC protests. Street medics, as a group, tend to operate a little differently than the established medical system in the US. To introduce you to the practices and expectations of street medics, and to insure that people coming to us for care receive attention consistent with our values, we have developed these points of unity.

Please talk with us about this information—it may be unclear, difficult to understand, or different than what you are accustomed to. We welcome dialogue about these points, and hope that you will engage actively with us, and with the values that these points of unity reflect.

We ask that anyone working with the DNC Medical Organizing Group to provide health care support for the DNC agree to follow these points of unity. If you cannot agree to follow all of them, please talk with us. If you do not talk with one of us, we will assume that you agree to these points of unity, and will hold you (and ourselves!) accountable to them.

Thanks for your time, energy and thoughtfulness.

As a medical or healthcare volunteer for the DNC Medical Organizing Group Wellness Center and other DNC Medical Organizing Group health care activities at the DNC protests, I will:

General Points of Unity

  • Help create a compassionate and supportive environment for other health care providers, people we treat, and the general activist community at the DNC protests. If under stress or in a crisis situation, I will do my best to maintain calm, treat everyone with respect, and work with kindness and compassion.
  • Communicate openly and honestly, and work to develop an understanding of the perspectives, limitations, needs, and skills each person brings to our work together.
  • Be aware of issues of oppression and vulnerability, and how they impact my relationships with other health care providers, the general activist community, and the people to whom we provide care. These issues may include, but are in no way limited to, oppression of transgendered people, genderqueer people, people of color, survivors of sexual assault, and immigrants. I will incorporate sensitivity to these issues into the care I provide and my interactions with other health care providers.
  • Appreciate that many people may have difficulty accepting care, or may need care specially designed to meet their needs. I will do my best to create safer situations for all injured and ill people, and will work towards establishing trust and meeting the needs of those receiving care.
  • Have zero tolerance for physical, emotional or sexual assault and harassment. If I observe assault or harassment of any kind, I will quickly address the situation directly or find someone to address the situation as quickly as possible.

Points that are a bit more specific to care of individuals (though not exclusively so)

  • When first encountering an injured or ill person, introduce myself and, whenever possible, state my training or health care background.
  • Get clear and explicit consent for every part of your interaction with an injured person from initiating contact (can I help?) to touching (can I touch your shoulder?).
  • Treat every individual with respect, asking what their needs are and how I may be of help. Acknowledge that people hold different definitions of "health" and "wellness", and my services may not be the best option for the person being treated.
  • Maintain strict confidentiality of the care provided and the people to whom it was provided. This includes information about specific injuries, as well as an individual's name and any other personally identifying information (clothing, political insignia, etc.). I will, to the best of my ability, prevent media from photographing or otherwise documenting information about anyone to whom I am providing care.
  • Accept a person's request for a different provider, and do my best to find one.
  • Act within the limits or my training and experience. Get more help whenever needed.
  • Respect the expertise and experience of other health care providers. For example, I will not assume care of an injured or ill person unless the medic currently treating that person explicitly requests assistance, and the person being treated consents to a transfer of care. When transferring a patient to care within the wellness center, I will explain the need to transfer to different providers (if appropriate).
  • Provide information to people I am treating about other care available, regardless of my beliefs about these therapies. These may include massage, energy work, flower essences, herbal therapies, and more.
  • Be accountable to the people to whom I provide care, for both the care delivered and the manner in which it is provided.

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    DNC Medical Organizing Group Policies

    The following policies have been adopted by the DNC Medical Organizing Group. For more information, including definitions and some of the history leading up to these policies, see the text after the specific policies.

    Decision Making Process: Modified Consensus

    1. Proposal (with possible discussion and revision, depending on the proposal)
    2. Call for consensus
    3. If consensus is not reached, the group may discuss the proposal, with focused attention on the reasons individuals could not support the proposal
    4. Second call for consensus
    5. If consensus is not reached, discussion may continue until someone calls for a vote. The proposal is approved if 75% of those present vote in favor.

    Organizing Meetings

    Agents of the state and media representatives are explicitly unwelcome at our meetings, and an announcement indicating this policy will be made at the beginning of each meeting. Organizing meetings will be open to people who have completed the reference process (see proposal "Integrating Street Medics"), as well as a street medic training. Wellness center providers (who have not completed a street medic training) who have attended an orientation meeting and have completed the reference process may also attend DNC Medical Organizing Group meetings. During meetings everyone should assume proceedings will become public knowledge, and should limit information conveyed accordingly. Sensitive information can be discussed in more secure settings.

    Integrating Street Medics (street-medic trained, not involved in BALM previous to June, 2004)

    We will have the ability to request references for non-BALM medics. A pair of medics (which will include one BALM member and one DNC Medical Organizing Group member) will make decisions regarding what references are deemed sufficient. Reviewers will be expected to act in a way that minimizes personal bias. The individual has the right to request one additional review by another reviewing team of their choice. If there are concerns about an individual's references, or if references are inadequate, reviewers will work with that individual to incorporate them in a way that finds a balance between the need for inclusiveness and the need for security.

    Integrating other health care providers working in the street (non-street medic trained, not working in the wellness center)

    In the past people without street medic training have been turned away from working with the street medics at large mobilizations. We propose that these people are encouraged to provide first aid to people on the street, and to look to us if a person needs continued care (either from street medics or at the wellness center), but with limited access to our resources (such as supplies, communications, and treatment spaces, including any wellness centers). If non-street medic trained providers working in the street want to work more closely with trained street medics, they should attend the orientation meetings, as specified in the "Call for Progressive Health Care Providers".

    Integrating other heath care providers in the wellness center (non-street medic trained)

    We will check credentials and references for these providers. All non-street medic trained providers working in wellness centers must attend one of the orientation meetings outlined in the "Call for Progressive Health Care Providers". As necessary, patient care will be designed so that these providers have minimal access to sensitive information.

    Wellness Center Staffing

    To promote clinician well-being and to avoid burnout, the wellness center schedule must be strictly adhered to. Clinicians should arrive and leave as close to scheduled times as possible, completing care or transferring care in a timely manner. When someone with an injury is brought into the wellness center by an attending medic, and care is continued by that medic, they will complete care in a timely manner or transfer care and return to the streets as soon as possible. The wellness center is not a medic hangout.

    Wellness Center as a Safe Space

    If an individual makes others in the wellness center feel uncomfortable or unsafe, that person can be asked to leave. Whenever possible wellness center staff will follow the established consensus process when making a decision to ask someone to leave. When not all staff members can be involved in the decision, two staff members must be in agreement about this action. They will discuss the reasons and outcome with all wellness center staff as soon as reasonably possible, and will present this information at the next medical organizing meeting.

    Background on Policies

    The primary role of medics at the DNC will be to provide "on-site health care support", as well as secondary roles that include the training of activists in health and safety considerations and providing emotional and physical aftercare.

    In their primary role, providing on-site health care support, medics will staff wellness centers and provide care on the street. Medics in the street will be available to provide immediate and basic first aid and emotional support. Wellness centers will provide a space for activists to come who seek a safe space for additional first aid.

    The DNC medic organizing group is playing a central role in organizing medics for the DNC, including organizing the wellness centers, communications systems, funding, housing, and outreach to protest groups. Medics from out of town will be using all these resources the DNC medic organzing group has gathered. In its organizational role the DNC medic organzing group has the oppurtunity to make decisions regarding process and security in advance of the DNC mobilizaton. Addressing these issues in advance of demonstrations we hope to avoid many of the issues that have come up during other mobilizations. We also anticipate that addressing these issues ahead of time will allow us to provide the best possible support for other activists.

    Security Considerations

    As with any activist group, the DNC medic organizing group has its own needs for security. With the role the DNC medic organizing group is playing in the upcoming large mobalization agaisnt the DNC, and due to known and suspected police infiltration of other groups organzing the DNC, medics should make thought out decisions regarding security. Security decisions should include consideration of the following:

    • Need to provide adequate # of medics. An essential part of our primary role of providing on site health care includes the need to provide an adequate number of medics on the ground to cover all the actions that will take place, and to avoid overwork of medics that leads to stress and takes away from our ability to support other activists.
    • Need to make the group as inclusive as possible. Many activist organizations have problems with in-group out-group dynamics and often leading to potential new members feeling alienated and leaving the organization and the homoginization of people who are involved in activist work. With our commitment to fighting oppression, medics work to make their groups as inclusive as possible.
    • Need to draw new people into activism and medic work. Progressive activism can be an amazingly positive and life changing experience, both for the persons engaged in activism and the people for whom that activism affects. With the increasing state repression of dissent, and with a seemingly ever-increasing need to use public spaces to voice our dissent, our work has never been more important, nor has there been such a large need for the services we provide.


    • Need to create a safe space within wellness centers and other treatment spaces. As a "safe space" designed to help folks heal it is especially important that wellness centers can be considered a safe space. Activists and protest groups must be confident that when they come into the wellness center they do not have to be worried about having any information about them or their injuries recorded in any way, and that all their needs to privacy and confidentiality be respected.
    • Need for medics to have a safe space available. Just as anybody else, medics need their own space to get away from the chaos that can be a large protest. This space may be in the same building as the wellness center, but should be separate from the actual wellness center area.
    • Need to build trust of protest groups and individuals. Protest groups and individual activists will only come to us if they know we can be trusted.
    • Need to handle some information in a secure manner. Besides respecting the confidentiality of individuals seeking treatment, we may receive information about specific actions. This information needs to be handled in a way that respects the security concerns of other activists.

    Definitions of Terms Used in Policies

    DNC organizing group member
    Individual who has completed a street medic training (18+ hour training), attends organizing meetings, and satisfies security criteria outlined in "integrating new medics" above.

    BALM Squad member
    Person active in BALM since before the June 12th Boston street medic training. Due to their known commitment to activism and medic work over time and the fact that BALM squad members have been organizing to provide health care support at the DNC for many months, they can be considered a trusted and secure group.

    Wellness center staff
    Person, not necessarily street medic trained, who will volunteer at the wellness center. Must satisfy security criteria listed under "Integrating new medics" OR "Integrating other health care providers (non-street medic trained, working in the wellness center)"

    Treatment space
    Any of the areas set up as a healing space by street medics or clinicians. Includes any tents, other buildings, or designated areas in a convergence center (all of which are commonly referred to as "wellness centers"), and also includes any street-based treatment area.

    Reference (also known as a vouch)
    A person who can confidently state that the person in question does not pose a security risk (media, police, other state agencies). The person providing the reference must be known to BALM members or other people that they trust. Example: Well, gee, I've worked with Starhawk on a couple of projects before, and I think the BALM medics trust her, so she can be my reference.

    Why we make these distinctions

    Some of the security policies include checking references. It is very frustrating that infiltration is a threat, and that there is even a proposal for this kind of process. However, we hope that with the current DNC organizing group supporting these security measures the process will have less in-group out-group dynamics and we will decrease risks of security problems.

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    This page last updated: 7/24/2004