It was the loss of a friend that prompted Sebastian Junger to start Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleages. With the inaugural session taking place this week in New York City, RISC will provide medical training to freelancers and journalists who may not otherwise have access to these life-saving skills.

 

It’s been a year since Tim Hetherington died while covering the conflict in Libya. He was hit by shrapnel in the groin. And as friend and colleague Sebastian Junger says, “Tim’s wound did not have to be fatal, but it killed him nonetheless.” Hetherington bled out in the back of a truck on the way to hospital. None of the journalists or rebels around him had proper medical training to help him.

It was this loss that prompted Junger to start Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleages. With the inaugural session taking place this week in New York City, RISC will provide medical training to freelancers and journalists who may not otherwise have access to these life-saving skills.

“Freelancers were the ones doing the vast majority of the front-line reporting, but they’re also the ones most underserved by the journalistic establishment,” Junger said in a recent New York Times blog story. “They have no money. The people who are doing the bulk of the dangerous reporting are the ones who are least trained. I thought that should change.”

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RISC is an all-expenses paid three-day training session that will teach journalists the first aid they need to know for the battlefield. Participants will learn about clearing air passageways, stopping or slowing bleeding from wounds, stopping air leakage into the chest cavity from a chest wound and will get a medical kit that they can carry with them at all times while in a war zone. It is funded by various media organizations and groups.

RISC will hold a session in London in the fall and Beirut in the winter this year.

The availability of safety training for freelancers has been a concern here in Canada as well. Last fall, the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma announced new bursaries that will cover approximately 70 per cent of course and travel costs for freelance journalists. The International News Safety Institute also provides safety training. The issue of more specific training has come up recently, as Ruane Remy explained in the Winter 2012 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism, when she looked at resources available to women in order to deal with the unique challenges they face in war zones.