These images belong to the training course offered by RISC, which presents itself as a group dedicated to promoting the safety of freelance journalists in combat zones.
We train and equip freelance journalists in all media to treat life-threatening injuries on the battlefield. Freelancers comprise the vast majority of those who cover wars, and consequently make up the vast majority of deaths and injuries. Surviving a gunshot or shrapnel wound is often a matter of doing the right thing in the first few minutes, and our training focuses on that brief, critical period of time. It is our hope to make first aid training the industry norm – like having a flak jacket or sat phone – and to prevent unnecessary deaths in a job that is so vital to human dignity and human rights.
RISC trainings are provided free of cost to experienced, published freelance conflict journalists. While staff reporters are often provided training by their employers, freelancers have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to participate in traditional hostile environment courses – and most simply cannot afford to. Please consider making a donation to help RISC train more independent journalists around the world.
The presentation includes a letter signed by founder and executive director of RISC, Sebastian Junger:
During the siege of Misrata by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces this past April, a single mortar shell landed on the frontlines of Tripoli Street and changed journalism – and my life – forever. In addition to killing and wounding many Libyan fighters, an American photojournalist named Chris Hondros was mortally wounded, and my good friend and colleague, Tim Hetherington, was hit by shrapnel in the groin.
Tim’s wound did not have to be fatal, but it killed him nevertheless. His femoral artery had been cut, and although that is an extremely serious injury, there are things that can be done to prolong life. Unfortunately, none of the journalists or rebels around him knew what to do, and Tim bled out and died in the back of a pickup truck on the way to the Misrata hospital. Tim is not the first friend I have lost in combat, but his death was certainly the most devastating. It has prompted me to start a medical training program for freelancer journalists so that the next tragedy can be averted. Our course is modeled after informal training that Tim and I received in Afghanistan and is taught by experienced medics, many with extensive combat experience.
The course lasts three days and covers basic procedures for saving someone’s life on the battlefield: clearing air passageways, stopping or slowing bleeding from wounds, stopping air leakage into the chest cavity from a chest wound and transporting the injured person to a medical facility.
Each graduate receives a combat medical kit with our RISC logo on the side and is expected to keep it on their person at all times while in a war zone. Our courses are held once a year in New York, London and Beirut and all costs are born by charitable donations. Students only pay their own travel and food expenses.
It is my hope that soon, first aid training and preparedness will be the industry norm, like having a flak jacket and helmet. It is only a matter of time until another journalist receives a wound like Tim’s, and I want to do everything I can to spare others what his friends and family endured last April. If you are a working journalist who would like more information on our next training session, please register on this website and we will be in touch with you. And if you wish to make a charitable contribution, please click on our “donate now” button. Thank You.
Through this selection of articles published in the media any interested reader can find numerous and very useful lessons for other reporters:
RISC in the Media
May 29, 2012 – Salon
“How to stop the bleeding”
May 6, 2012 – MSNBC
“War reporter Sebastian Junger talks to MSNBC’s Alex Witt”
April 30, 2012 – Committee to Protect Journalists – Journalist Security Blog
“For conflict journalists, a need for first-aid training”
April 27, 2012 – On the Media (NPR)
“Sebastian Junger and RISC”
April 23, 2012 – Morning Joe (MSNBC)
“New course trains reporters to save lives in the field”
April 20, 2012 – Global Post
“RISC Trains Journalists in Basic Battlefield Safety”
April 20, 2012 – Outside Magazine
“Sebastian Junger Talks About RISC and Tim Hetherington”
April 19, 2012 – Capital New York
“Sebastian Junger, done with war reporting, convenes journalists in the Bronx to learn to save each other’s lives”
April 18, 2012 – The New York Times
“Lifesaving Training for Reporters”
March 29, 2012 – Photography District News
“Free Conflict-Training Course Now Accepting Applications”
March 21, 2012 – Vanity Fair
“Sebastian Junger Launches RISC, Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues”