5 min read

The Portland Protest Shooting: First Aid and Body Armor

First, I want to say thank you to the folks who shared this newsletter–we've got a few new members and that makes me pretty happy. I'm going to keep writing relevant leftist preparedness and collapse content as long as I can, and as long as it seems worthwhile to the community.

A few weeks ago, a group of traffic controllers for a protest in Portland against police violence were confronted and shot by an individual living in a nearby apartment. He has since been identified as far-right, espousing the desire that organizations shoot and kill leftists, and protestors in particular. Of the victims, one was killed. While the shooter was stopped–by an armed antifascist–police did not clear the scene for paramedics until one of the victims rushed up to them, having been shot multiple times, and urged the cops to let the paramedics respond.

If it weren't for the actions of other protestors and street medics, more may have died. So today we're going to go When/If old school, and simply talk about first aid kits and body armor for those of you who protest or spend a lot of time on the ground. From the jump, I will say that what we're reviewing today is expensive, and there's no way around it. This is equipment intended to save your life, and there is a reason to pay a premium for that.

IFAK, or Individual First Aid Kit

The IFAK resembles a regular first aid kit: a smallish pouch stuffed to the gills with equipment. The difference is that your IFAK is stuffed to the gills almost exclusively with life-saving equipment over more general wound care applications–in other words, the IFAK is plugging a hole in you while a normal first aid kit is probably just cleaning and covering a nasty cut.

Most IFAK equipment will require some training to use, or extensive training to use well. Do not skimp on this. If you do not feel you are prepared to use the equipment in an IFAK, don't. If you want to help people, get trained–even watching some videos is better than nothing, but real training is definitely better than YouTube. And it is, no matter what, a good idea to have an IFAK, as a plurality of these tools on the ground for skilled professionals is a good thing.

Your typical IFAK is going to (must) have:

  1. A CAT Gen 7 Tourniquet. Accept no substitutes.
  2. ETD (emergency trauma dressing/pressure bandage)
  3. Hemostatic Z-fold gauze (Crucially, this is for wound packing. A lot of QuikClot-style hemostatic gauze you will find is not meant for wound packing, so be sure to read the product details carefully.)
  4. x2 HyFin Vented Chest seals
  5. Gloves for PPE
  6. Trauma shears
  7. Wound dressing gauze
  8. Nasopharyngeal airway (Do you see what I mean about needing training?)
  9. Emergency Blanket

And, probably, more.

You can purchase IFAKs from the Empire, North American Rescue, or from various leftist outfits. Thousand Pikes has one, and Red Star Defense has a smaller ballistic injury kit, for starters (I'll link below). They'll ballpark, usually, around $99. You can assemble one yourself, of course, as well. Just make sure not to go cheap.

For training, go to stopthebleed.org and find a class near you. If you do not receive training, I highly recommend that you do not use these items, but only carry them for street medics and the like, or a last resort. While your first thought may be that you'll tourniquet someone's arm off without training, what's more likely is that you'll clamp a chest seal on with the vents occluded and cause tension pneumothorax. Which is a thing that can happen that sounds pretty bad. So, you know, get trained.

Body Armor

Despite what you might think, body armor is mostly legal across the United States. There are some laws that vary from state to state, but generally speaking, most people are able to own and wear body armor most places in the country. Now, when I say body armor, I want to be clear about something. Needing body armor is not a good place to be. The best defense is to not be in a situation that could lead to you getting shot. The second best defense is a whole brick wall. The third best defense is running like mad. The worst defense, the worst life-saving option, is body armor. Understand? You wear body armor because you have decided to enter into a situation in which you may be shot. I'm not trying to out-copaganda the media or anything, but if you put on your body armor in the morning it is with the knowledge that you may be shot, and this is meant to keep you from death. And that's okay. Just understand that body armor is not some magical thing. It will not necessarily save you. It is a smallish, heavy, uncomfortable plate that will cover your most vital organs and stop, if you're lucky, a few bullets from fully penetrating into your body.

Before we break this down, let me say again that body armor is expensive. You're gonna drop about $300, minimum. That's a prohibitive amount, but the alternative is not having armor, or choosing to wear an inferior product that will probably get you killed. (Do not buy steel plates! You will get grievously wounded and need your IFAK. Ceramic only.)

Body armor is broken down into levels based on the caliber of bullet they're able to stop. And note that armor and plate carriers–the vests that hold the armor in place–are mostly sold separately.

3A: Soft armor, all-in-one, which will protect you from most common handgun calibers (9mm, .38,)

3: Plate armor that will stop the above calibers, including most common rifle rounds that you're likely to encounter these days (like those fired from an AR-15). I own level 3 armor.

4: Plate armor that will stop most anything you'll ever see short of some heavy-duty military ammunition. It may seem counterintuitive, but some of the most powerful rounds you'll encounter come from old hunting rifles your grandpa has–level 4 can stop a 30-06.

Most plate armor is a standard size, but you'll want to be sure you're getting an appropriate curvature, cut, and an appropriate plate carrier. Multiple-curve plates cost more, but are slightly more comfortable (especially for individuals with breasts) and easier to conceal (not that any are really concealable). There are many varieties of plate carrier, so make sure your plates and carrier match and fit.

Helmets are another important part of your loadout. There are several kinds, and it's important to match up your helmet to what you expect to face. Beyond a bike helmet, or hockey mask, or what have you, there are two kinds of helmet that you might consider.

1: Bump helmets are meant for collisions, impacts, falling debris, and some light shrapnel. They are not going to provide you with any protection from gunfire.

2: Ballistic helmets are going to provide you some protection against gunfire–mostly the light stuff.

That may sound like limited usage, but remember that if you decide to attend a protest and a cop shoots a non-lethal round at your skull, a helmet of any kind is way better than no helmet. While this post was motivated by victims of a civilian shooting, let's not forget that many people were seriously hurt in the past couple years by cops firing everything from smoke grenades to wooden rounds at protestors.

If you went out and bought everything I suggested you'd probably spend only a little less than a grand. Which is a lot of money. If you're protesting regularly, try to see if you can find a mutual aid group to help defray the costs. Some groups were donated equipment and armor at the height of the protests, so it's possible you can have some on loan, as well.

As tensions begin to rise again, as conflict everywhere seems to be escalating, it's good to know that we have options for protection. For those options, I highly recommend you visit and support these leftist and left-leaning organizations:

Thousand Pikes (armor, equipment, IFAKs, firearms, ammunition, kitchen sinks)

Red Star Defense (armor and equipment)

Conquest of Thread (plate carriers)