by Joseph Wade
Occupy the Wall (OW) in New York City has a medic team consisting of 20 medics—many of them first responder qualified—that are here for people at the OW protest. Treating people for simple cases of dehydration to bruising and lacerations, the medics are busy around the clock.
Many medics work full-time jobs during the week and work as medics during their time off, earning the round, black eye-sockets so many of them wear on their faces. One medic is reported to work so many hours during the week that he can only make it during weekends. Other medics—part of the one-in-ten cohort of unemployed Americans—sleep at the OW site.
One medic, Steve Smith—a 24 year old first responder and dual graduate in communications and theater—said they recently treated protesters released from prison.
“One guy was assaulted multiple times with a baton, including one full-force hit to his right shin. The bruising was bad and there was a laceration that was bad enough we had to use tweezers and medical scissors to cut away skin before treating it for infection,” Smith said about one recently released protester, going on to say that most of the protesters released from jail were treated for bruising.
Smith said that before the arrests on Saturday, there were five medics on the team, and after the arrests, the team grew to 20. Among the people arrested were two medics, who are marked with big red crosses taped to their clothing. Smith said the arresting of medics is why he joined the medical team, though he has been coming to protests for short periods between job interviews.
As a volunteer medic, Smith worked from 11:30am on Sunday to 5:00am today, and he is back on the clock again.
Speaking on his reasons for joining the OW protest, Smith said, “One thing really gets to me. My whole life, everybody I went to school with were told if you don’t go to college, you won’t be able to get a job. But what we’ve found is after college we’re all buried in debt and can’t get a job.” Among the fields Smith has worked in are politics, security, and retail. He said he would take any job that would pay the bills.
He continued his oration, drawing in a passerby, and said, “So now we’re at the point where people are losing homes because it got so bad. And they can’t afford basic shelter and food. It’s at a point where we have to say, enough.”
Asked what he thinks needs to be done, Smith replied, “I’m hoping we can get corporations and banks out of government and get the politicians working for us again.”