People's Community Medics
People’s Community Medics is a grassroots organization that teaches basic emergency first aid skills free of charge. They were founded in the summer of 2011 by Sharena Thomas and Lesley Phillips. As members of the Oscar Grant Committee, they 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 their knowledge that 911 calls often do not result in an ambulance arriving in a timely manner to Black, Brown and poor neighborhoods -- inspired them to teach people basic emergency first aid so that we can help one another until an ambulance arrives.
They reached out to a fellow activist who is a health worker and together developed a curriculum for their training. Since March 2012, they have been giving free trainings in basic emergency first aid for treating seizures, gunshot wounds and stabbings to folks of all ages in Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, Berkeley, Oxnard, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland.
The People’s Community Medics is a collective of about 10 volunteers. Sharena has previous medical training as a medical assistant. Both are Red Cross certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid for the urban environment. They are both mothers and Lesley is also a grandmother. They have both been active in their communities for many years.
The People’s Community Medics’ trainings immediately resonate with people; this project is an act of self determination. It resists the state’s disregard for our well-being and is part of creating an alternative reality. Hopefully one day every child will be taught basic first aid in school.
At all of their free trainings they hand out free first aid packets that have gloves, gauze, an instruction sheet in English, Spanish and Chinese, a “know your rights” card from Berkeley Copwatch and Emergen-C (for diabetics).