Friday, February 4, 2011

Cairo Protests - 8 PM Friday 4th

I can't even begin to express my frustration right now. We tried a different road leading to Tahrir Square a couple of hours ago, this one controlled by pro-democracy protesters. I explained that I was a first aid/CPR instructor for the Swedish Red Cross and that I would like to offer my assistance to the field medics in the square. I was warmly welcomed by the civilians and had two "bodyguards" escorting me through 7-8 security checks where I had to show my passport, get body searched and explain what I was doing there.

Finally we arrived in the heart of chaos, where darkness had settled over Tahrir and tens of thousands of protesters had gathered to let president Mubarak know that his time is over. A make shift hospital was put up next to two military tanks. A couple of doctors and nurses was stationed there, taking care of the wounded. The doctor I spoke to explained that they're deeply sorry that they can't accept my assistance, simply because I'm a foreigner. From the bottom of their hearts they apologized for the situation and said that they would more than gladly use my skills, but that it would be too risky. Some are apparently accusing the international community for much of the violence happening in the streets. They claim that it's the international media's fault, and therefore it would be too dangerous for me to help out. That I'm with the non-governmental, non-political organisation Red Cross doesn't matter. They explained that the government doesn't care who I'm with. It would be too risky.

I'm so sad and upset right now. When I got there, there weren't that many wounded in the sick bay, but I'm sure there will be a lot more as time passes by this Friday night. It feels so wrong to not be able to help when I'm qualified for it. I'm trained for this. I didn't come there to express my discontent with the government or give my opinion about anything that has to do with politics. I didn't go there to take sides. All I wanted was to treat the wounded as best as I could. All I could do today was to give the medics the few first aid supplies I had in my bag; some cotton, bandages, dressings and antibiotic cream.

I dearly hope that the ICRC will be allowed into Tahrir tomorrow if the protests continue, which I have a feeling they will. I also hope that I'll be able to join them as a first aider. Let's hope that the brave medics won't be overburdened tonight and that the few medical supplies will be enough to treat the injured.

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