Street Medics Austin (SMA) was created in response to an increase in protest related injuries observed during the Black Lives Matter and police brutality protests in May 2020. We coordinated and provided free medical care services and resources to ensure the safety of everyone in our community over the weeks and months during and after the protests.
Since then, we have provided a vital support role for various other movements and actions – both local and in other parts of Texas – as individuals and as a group. Today, we continue to provide free medical services in situations that are difficult to serve for traditional institutions – protests, disaster areas, and under-served communities, including regular unhoused outreach across Austin. We also contribute to state-wide and country-wide mutual aid networks, providing coordination support, volunteers, and supplies to organisations in need during natural disasters and civil unrest.
SMA volunteers work under the philosophy of “first do no harm”, meaning that medics employ treatments that must never harm the patient more than they help. We also practice strict neutrality when in uniform by not actively taking part in marching, chanting or holding signs. We will render aid to anyone regardless of whether we personally agree with their beliefs.
Our Street Medics have varying degrees of medical training ranging from First Aid and CPR, to EMTs, Combat Medics, Nurses, and Doctors. Many also combine the skills of first responders with supplemental knowledge of handling typical demonstration-related injuries. We have Street Medics employed in almost every field of medicine and rescue, including emergency medicine, nursing, surgery, first aid instruction, fire-fighting, and wilderness medicine. Unlike many medical professionals working on the streets such as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) working for state-sponsored institutions, Street Medics Austin operate as civilians under Good Samaritan clauses, and are not protected from arrest. Our volunteers are expected to keep their skills current by pursuing continuing education and maintaining an involvement in our responses.
We also have volunteers who plan training programs focusing on treating demonstration-related injuries, and plan health, safety, and medical coverage of upcoming demonstrations.