When I was posted to the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2011-2012, I was part of the embassy’s Trauma Response Team, a group of non-medical staff who received extra medical training to help triage casualties in the event of a large attack. We learned CPR, how to insert an IV, and how to apply a tourniquet.
Each of us was given a medical kit to keep in our rooms in the event of a mass casualty incident, and I’ve kept that kit ever since.
Around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2nd, I hopped on my motorcycle and rode into Washington, DC and gave the medical kit to my brother, who told me he would be attending the protests about an hour later. I had witnessed the scene the day before, watching riot police beat peaceful protesters with shields and batons for the president’s photo op. I was scared it would happen again. I wanted to join him, but the stress it would cause my wife, especially as we have a nine-month-old infant, would be too much.
As I approached his apartment in the Eastern Market neighborhood, just southeast of the US Capitol, I got nervous and started to cry.
I was there, giving him my medical kit, because I feared for his life.
When he came up, I pulled out the medical bag from my backpack and unzipped it to show him the contents, explaining each one: gauze, bandages, wraps, wound dressings, splints, tape, gloves, goggles, scissors, and lastly, tourniquets.
“Do you know how to use these?”
He shook his head.
“Only use it if there is blood spurting out from a wound. That means there is an arterial bleed and if it’s not stopped the person could bleed out and die. Undo the Velcro and slide the tourniquet as high up on the limb as possible. Pull the Velcro tight and then twist this until the bleeding stops. Lock it underneath the lip and fold the Velcro over.”
I had just explained to my younger brother how to apply a tourniquet. He was never in the military. He hadn’t been to Iraq or Afghanistan.
He was protesting the death of George Floyd, as well as the recent draconian steps by federal officials to quell the right of Americans to peaceably assemble.
And I still felt that he needed to know how the tourniquets worked because I feared for his life. I don’t have a lot of family left, and losing him would be devastating.
I know that no protesters have been killed…yet. And that is my worry. If things get worse, bullets may start flying, and then those tourniquets may just save his life or the lives of others.