"As a queer, non-binary, anarchist, critical care RN/street medic who was the first responder for Heather Heyer, initiating CPR and, with a team of amazing bystanders, facilitating resuscitation until EMS arrived, I feel a compelling need to tell our story.
When we heard the car crash into our march, I was about 20 feet away from Heather, and I responded immediately to the screams for medics. I arrived to find bystanders holding c-spine traction on Heather’s neck and putting pressure on a deep leg wound to stop the bleeding, and I stopped to assist in controlling the bleed. Within a minute or two, Heather’s respirations slowed and stopped, she lost her pulse, we rolled her onto her back, and I began chest compressions. An EMT street medic provided respiratory supplies, and a bystander with medic training began respirations.
One of the critical aspects of Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), which is the advanced form of CPR that trained medics provide, is maintaining chest compressions at an effective depth and speed, with no breaks in compressions. Providing effective chest compressions is exhausting, and to maintain effective compressions, we ideally provide compressions for only two minutes, and take turns with other medics.
In 90 degree heat, this is even more essential. I was horrified to discover, after two minutes of intense, exhausting chest compressions, that a state trooper had forcibly removed the EMT assisting me in resuscitation, as well as other bystanders ready in line for the next round of compressions. The EMT told the state trooper that we were actively resuscitating a patient, but the state trooper physically removed him from the scene anyway.
I had to yell for other bystanders to come assist with compressions, and two people courageously responded, despite the threats of the state trooper. The state trooper then began yelling at me to leave my patient. I initially thought that perhaps he intended to take over chest compressions, and counted him in to start the next round of compressions (when we switch out on chest compressions, particularly in a chaotic situation, we always count each other in, as in “switching in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” so...