21st October, 2014
A Bloody Night in Mong Kok: Medics’ Testimony on 19/Oct Early Morning
I joined the Mong Kok occupy site’s medical unit on 19th October and witnessed the bloodiest night in the past three weeks. I saw teenagers rushed to the medical tent after being beaten up by the police. The volunteers at the medical tent tried to stop their tears and attempted to stop their bleeding before rushing them to the hospital.
Since I have taken first aid course and saw more and more protesters being injured in Mong Kok from the news, and because people started calling for doctors and nurses to volunteer in Mong Kok, at 4pm of 18th October, I arrived at the medical tent outside Mong Kok Bank Centre.
I was briefed by the stationed volunteers at that tent that all local professional teams, including Saint John’s and Red Cross have retreated from the protest site for safety reasons, and that only volunteers are now working at the medical tents in all protest sites. These volunteers are not protected by any organisations, so if they are arrested, they cannot defend themselves in the court of law if accused of taking part in illegal assemblies.
My heart sank when I heard this briefing: international news told me that even in battle fields in Gaza, medical units like Red Cross would provide supplies and medical support because in the eyes of medical and first aid units, the safety of people is put before politics. However, in Hong Kong today, the tremendous political pressure has made these organisations to retreat from sites that need them the most!
Fortunately, we still have a lot of professional volunteers who would “break the law” to provide medical support to protesters.
On 19th October, there were 24 volunteers on site. Many of them were professional doctors and nurses, who went straight to the protest site from work. They hired a hotel room nearby, and crashed out there when they could not stay awake in the protest site before heading to work the next day.
The supply in Mong Kok was plentiful thanks to donations from ordinary citizens. When the police cleared the protest site during the day, most of the supplies were taken away and stored at Polytechnic University. At around 8pm on 19th October, there was a car bringing medical supply to the Mong Kok medical tent, but when the police saw helmets were amongst the supply, they accused the vehicle of transporting offensive weapons and forbade it from entering the protest site. As a result, ice packs and other medical supply that could have been used to stop bleeding never reached the medical tents.
The clash happened during the early hours of 19th October. The 24 volunteers split into four groups to treat patients. My group of four people, treated four injured protesters within three hours, and two of them were bleeding on their heads after being beaten up by the police with truncheons.
The first protester was in his twenties, after being beaten up by the police, blood was streaming down on his face and his left eye was swollen. Tears were gushing out of his eyes. We took him to sit down near Langham Place to rest and treat his wound. Within two minutes, we received another protester who was also suffering from head injury. Another young man in his early twenties got hit on his forehead and was not completely conscious, so we suspected he was suffering from concussion.
We did not have ice packs to help stop their bleeding, but thankfully a passer-by bought us some ice or else we could not have treated their injuries immediately. To calm the injured protesters, we asked for help from another passer-by to talk to them in order to distract them from their injuries and keep them conscious.
Since ambulances were not allowed to go into the protest zone, passer-bys helped us move the injured protesters to the nearest taxi rank and take them to hospital. Two volunteers helped open up the road for the injured and stuffed legal support information to the injured.
As the first aid team and passer-bys were busy trying to treat the injured protesters, the police arrived at the medical tent half an hour after the clash started and took away most of the remained supplies at the tent, with the help of the medical volunteers and other protesters, only around 20% of what was already limited medical supplies was saved.
At 3am, all 24 of us gathered again to summarise the work so far: 11 injured protesters were treated by the six small teams of four. 10 out of the 11 were male. Five of them suffered from head injuries and were covered in blood. Two of them suffer from bone fracture on their arms and legs. The most serious case was a male protester who suffered from three open wounds on his head. The only female patient with stick shape bruises on her face had an open wound on her head and broken bone on one of her fingers.
When we were resting, some medical volunteers said that at the clash in Lung Wo Road two days ago, the police used their truncheons to attack a doctor from behind even though he was wearing a first aid badge. All of us were upset that things that should only happen at a war zone are happening in Hong Kong.
Political differences evolved into a violent crackdown in Hong Kong. I have finally realised that how Hong Kong, a de facto oligarchy, is so very close to an autocracy.