Spread the Calm, Know the Symptoms, and Embrace Plant Allies
What can we do as Street Medics? How can we offer support at a time when the number one recommendation is to stay home to slow the spread of this pandemic? I've been grappling with these questions, and here is what I've found.
- Spread the Calm. One of the prime directives of the street medic movement is to "Spread the Calm." Panic causes poor decision making and people get hurt unnecessarily, and this is just as true in a global pandemic as it is on the front lines of action. The rest of list suggests some ways to spread the calm.
- Instead of focusing on anxiety, pivot towards helpful action. Here is a list of Vermont mutual aid information. If you are outside Vermont, find out what is happening in your own community.
- Know the Symptoms so you can support people who wonder if they may have COVID-19. They are:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat.
- In only 4% of cases is there a runny nose present, and those are probably instances of secondary infection.
- If you have these symptoms, CALL your doctor (do not visit the office in person) and they will direct you to a testing clinic and call ahead to tell the clinic you are coming. While access to COVID-19 testing access in the US has been inconsistent, you can definitely get tested for influenza and strep throat, which is useful for a process of elimination. You should seek to get tested even if your infection is mild, because that helps public health officials trace your contacts and monitor them proactively.
- Know how long the Cornonavirus germs survives on surfaces: about three days on hard surfaces, and less than a day on cardboard and fabric. Accurate information on this can be found in this New York Times article (March 17, 2020). Spreading this information can help calm fears about the spread of the virus on surfaces.
- Boost your immune system however you can. It's possible to have an asymptomatic or mild infection if your immune system is strong, which means you are freeing up hospital beds for those with more severe infections. Get rest, breathe fresh air, exercise, stay hydrated, and eat healthy food. You can also utilize herbs that boost the immune system:
- My friend Vincent wrote a really helpful guide to Peace of Mind for Cornonavirsu: Herbal Support For Viral Infections, with advice about immune boosting herbs as well.
- Guido Mase, founder of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, offered this EXCELLENT webinar on herbal responses for COVID-19. It is definitely worth watching.
- If you live in the northern forest, you can collect evergreen needles, usnea lichen, and the chaga mushroom directly from the forest for immune support (thanks to Trevanna Grenfell for this reminder!). Pine needles and chaga are best made into teas, and Usnea is best tinctured. Chaga is slow-growing and often over-harvested, so only harvest in moderation and only where it is locally abundant.
- Art, poetry, and music raise our spirits, and keeping up morale is key to any prolonged struggle (I learned that first-hand at Standing Rock!). Here are a few pieces that have been inspiring me:
- Wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds). Hand-washing with soap is WAY more effective than sanitizing gels. Model the new "elbow bump" greeting instead of hugs and handshakes.
- For balanced, trustworthy, and easy-to-understand daily updates on the Coronavirus situation in the USA, check out the new NPR podcast Coronavirus Daily.
I'll continue to update this post with new helpful information and links as I come across them. Please share widely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Murphy Robinson has been a street medic instructor since 2010. They have offered medic support for Occupy Wall Street, Shut Down VT Yankee, Standing Rock, and Montpelier's May Day Parade. They have also been a practicing Wilderness First Responder since 2006, with first-hand experience caring for injured and ill patients on backcountry expeditions. Murphy offers Street Medic trainings in Vermont and wherever else they are invited to teach.
Sources of Medical Information used above:
- "The Daily" Podcast, March 13 episode: "Learning to live with the Coronavirus" (an interview with science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr.)
- Belluck, Pam. "What Does Coronavirus do to the Body?" New York Times, March 12, 2020.
- Health Bulletin email from Tree of Life Medicine in Montpelier, Vermont (March 10, 2020).
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash