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Content Notes for "When You Strike and Overcome Him" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Content Notes for "When You Strike and Overcome Him"
These are the content notes for "When You Strike and Overcome Him." Many of them are graphic and disturbing.


"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number."
-- Stonewall Jackson

The Incident Command System provides a framework for organizing personnel and resources in an emergency. The fractal structure is standard, but it can actually be configured however makes sense for a given incident, which means that people and tasks can be combined in different ways or assigned to different areas of activity. Here is a sample flow chart of the structure.

Listed below are the standard ICS titles:
Organizational Level - Title - Support Position
Incident Command - Incident Commander - Deputy
Command Staff - Officer - Assistant
General Staff (Section) - Chief - Deputy
Branch - Director - Deputy
Division/Group - Supervisor - N/A
Unit - Leader - Manager
Strike Team/Task Force - Leader - Single Resource Boss

In this raid, personnel include:
Incident Commander (Maddox Adams)
Planning Chief, Operations Chief
BASH Director (Callen La Salle), Support Director (Kelsa Caldwell)
BASH Team Leader (Bert Armbruster), Medical Team Leader
Single Resource Boss (Officer Pink for Turq)

The Support Branch includes medical teams, transport teams, protection teams, and special resources like Officer Pink and Turq. They work primarily in the warm zone to provide backup in case the breach teams need help. Combat medics dash into the line of fire to extract casualties which they bring back to other paramedics for care. Transport teams carry stabilized casualties to the medical station in the cold zone for further treatment. Protection teams can be deployed into the hot zone, or used to hold the line while other support members retreat. Soups usually serve as a single resource boss (like Ansel) or a single resource (like Turq and Anxiety Girl).

A tactical medic has training in both emergency health care and hazardous situations. Note that local-American practice tends to recruit tac medics from police and train them as medics, or recruit from emergency medical service and train them in tactics, so they're usually restricted to working in warm zones. Terramagne-America gets a substantial portion of its tac medics from the military as retiring combat medics, who are entirely capable of running into hot zones to extract casualties and can even provide cover fire if necessary. This provides a fantastic opportunity for employment of medically trained veterans. Tac medics perform a variety of tasks on and off the field. Here are some training exercises for tac medics.

This is Turq's rescue knife.

Turq takes a mini first aid kit with supplies for treating major trauma. That thing is about hand size. The general first aid kit is designed to treat minor complaints and is about the size of a trade paperback book. The one Kelsa tosses to Turq later is a multi-person trauma kit for bleeding wounds.

In Terramagne-America, a raid is the preferred method of coping with supervillains. It may be planned well in advance, or hastily composed in an emergency as shown here. Ideally, it incorporates both civil authorities and superheroes, but that's not always feasible. BASH is the T-American equivalent of L-American SWAT, used in dangerous missions. However, T-America places much higher value on citizen life, so police are obligated to minimize the potential of casualties by discreetly evacuating bystanders prior to a planned raid. You can read about planning operations and clearing buildings online. This page explains the hot/warm/cold zone system for support crew such as medics and chaplains. A staging area provides a place to gather people and resources before the raid goes active, and allows them to evacuate casualties to a medical station. They actually have two levels here, the main staging area in the cold zone just outside the gate, and the forward one in the warm zone across the road from the target buildings. Trauma risk management aims to lower the risk of PTSD by providing education and Emotional First Aid.

Terramagne-America has tighter gun laws and fewer guns than local-America. For this reason, few police officers wear armor routinely. However, gizmotronic and super-gizmotronic weapons can raise the stakes. Hence the use of battlesuits, which are not affected by most ordinary weapons short of tank rounds, and some also resist gizmotronic or super-gizmotronic weapons. Modern body armor is lighter and more comfortable than historic armor, but still becomes heavier and stiffer the more protective it is. Therefore, most police officers wear light (stops handguns) to medium (stops rifles) armor even on a raid. BASH personnel on the penetration team wear heavy armor (stops armor-piercing rounds), because they expect to get shot at; and if powered armor is available, that's where it goes too. In L-America, armor that protects against edged or pointed weapons is usually separate, and the combined armor is a nuisance to wear; T-America has better tech and thus their combined armor has similar weight and flexibility to single-purpose armor here. However, no armor is completely bulletproof, especially after multiple impacts. In the raid, it greatly reduced the number of injuries, but eventually things started getting through.

Ansel's tac knife is small for a tactical knife, and folding knives aren't as secure in combat as fixed knives. However, it's not as intimidating, and it's lightweight enough to use for everyday carry in a noncombat zone. The extra features -- a saw edge near the hilt, a seatbelt cutter, and a glassbreaking point on the pommel -- make it far more useful than a regular pocketknife. It is sturdy, discreet, and effective in a wide range of situations. Under the badge is an ID chip that will furnish Ansel's badge number and other identification to a police scanner, making it a backup to his regular badge.

A zatzer is a heavy, rather clunky pistol that fires electromagnetic bolts. This is retro-engineered tech. It lacks the power and finesse of a true zap gun. At low settings it can disorient humans; at medium settings it can stun, like a taser; and at high settings it can singe or start fires. The higher the setting, the more risk of killing a person. This is often the only kind of gun police are allowed to carry in urban areas, except for BASH teams.

In T-America, heavy armor for BASH personnel consists of rigid or semi-rigid plates over somewhat more flexible underarmor, covering almost the entire body. It is normally worn with heavy gauntlets and boots, not shown in this diagram. The helmet covers the whole head with an integrated full-face shield.

Tactical checklists help organize many different projects, such as a mission. Tactical mission tasks describe what and why the force should be doing, as based on military training. Clearing a building is described in SWAT manuals. Learn how to make and implement a checklist.

See the exterior and the interior of the BASH van.

Here is the prisoner transport van closed and open.

(These links are horrifying.)
Nazi weapons include the Wunderwaffe, a list of secret and terrifying weapons. Some were deployed at least once, some built but never deployed, and others exist only as plans. Real live mad scientists are scary fuckers. Among the deadliest weapons of World War II were several heavy guns made by Nazis. The Germans also deployed land mines in large numbers, along with other equipment. Carl Bernhardt has carried on the family tradition in this regard as well as biological abuses.

An electrical web is a defensive system of generators and repeaters that creates a network of crisscrossing lines that deliver a shock if touched. The gizmological version incorporates wires and other metal contact gear. The super-gizmological version is wireless.

An anklebiter is a defensive weapon that consists of a buried pipe which pops up when triggered. In active mode, they're typically 6-12 inches tall. Gizmological ones can spew anything from shrapnel to acid. Super-gizmological ones typically fire zap bolts. Due to the vertical shape of the rod, they cannot fire beams. The effective range is similar to that of a claymore, but in a circle instead of an arc. Like land mines, they can be triggered by direct pressure, but it's also possible to activate them en masse automatically.

A hex cannon is a massive gun with six barrels, each of which can fire a different type of beam. The usual mix is freeze (sky blue), sleep (indigo), force, heat (vermilion), pain (orange), shrink. The whole hex chamber rolls, like a revolver, allowing each barrel to fire in turn. This is necessary to allow the gun to bleed off excess energy and recharge before the same type of beam can fire again. So it's versatile, but not flexible. This super-gizmo is customarily mounted on a tank, although some people with super-strength have used it as a long gun. It can also be mounted on buildings for stationary defense.

The Alpha Bravo Code has gone through various iterations over time. The concept of naming a set of things alphabetically goes all the way back to the Ogham Alphabet and its listing of birds, colors, trees, and so forth. One tactical application is that you can create differentiated lists whose meaning signifies which type of personnel it names. So for instance, the first BASH team entering the STEMZ Building is Ampère and the second is Bunsen. The first BASH team entering the Biology Building is Alcock and the second is Brenner. The first team of combat medics is Apollo and the second is Brigid. In order to work, the names need to be short, clear, and distinctive. It is not necessary for everyone to know the background of the term, although that helps in remembering them, so famous names or words are often used.

Tactical motion includes both a low crawl (as flat as a human can get) and a high crawl (which is really an elbow crawl, intermediate between the belly crawl and the noncombat hands-and-knees crawl). Skills like this make the difference between a combat medic and an civilian paramedic.

(These links are messy.)
Combat first aid includes somewhat different parameters than civilian first aid. Read a quick reference guide and whole guidelines. A key divergence between combat and civilian systems is that combat first aid includes more pointers on identifying types of expectant casualty. This prevents rescuers from wasting limited time and supplies on individuals who are unlikely to survive their extreme injuries under field conditions -- people who might be saved if they were the single victim of an accident close to optimum care. Cited examples include cardiac arrest, massive head trauma, and deep burns over most of the body. I would add massive abdominal injury with expelled organs. Note, however, that traumatic amputation of all four limbs is now a fairly survivable injury with L-American field care, and typical of improvised explosive devices. Compare a combat triage flow chart with a civilian triage flow chart.

(More messy medical details here.)
Triage is the process of separating casualties according to severity. This flow chart gives an example of how it works. You can see the opportunity for mistakes -- an unconscious person might seem much worse than they are, while a walking person might be quite badly hurt but too shocky to feel the pain. (Note that some groups, such as soldiers and people living with chronic pain, may obscure quite serious injuries for different reasons.) Triage sacrifices precision for speed in hope of saving as many people as possible. It mostly works. Triage tags record information on the scene for use in sorting casualties and treating them at a hospital. A simple tag such as MET is good for major disasters or nonmedical responders such as police, and is usually the kind included in disaster response kits. A more complex tag such as AIIRisk is good for local disasters or trained medics. These tags can also be paired in primary/secondary triage with large numbers of casualties waiting.

(Still more mess stuff.)
Read simple and detailed instructions for primary and secondary triage. In this incident, the support crew establishes a primary triage station in the warm zone across the street from the hot zone in the buildings. Ambulatory casualties flee away from the buildings into the support station, sometimes carrying nonambulatory casualties with them. Combat medics extract nonambulatory casualties from the hot zone. Regular paramedics work in the warm zone but will not enter the hot zone. They may care for casualties and accompany them in transit. Transport teams take the sorted casualties, in order of priority, to the secondary triage station in the cold zone outside the main gate. That feeds into the medical station at the performance pavilion, where casualties are stabilized for transport to nearby medical facilities.

(Less gory but still medical.)
If you can spare the time and personnel for it, placing casualties in a row makes it easy to go down the line to triage them. Casualties can be triaged onto plain tarps which are color-coded for urgency of transport. Volunteer groups often use this style because it's cheaper and they have simpler skill levels on average. The top-quality triage tarps often come as part of a kit and have individual numbered spaces printed on them, making it easier to identify and organize casualties. Professional organizations usually use this style because it's more efficient and they have larger budgets.

Flagging tape is a fast, easy way to mark triaged casualties. It can be plain and cheap or labeled and more expensive. Disaster response teams often carry more sophisticated supplies such as a belt pouch with rolls of tape like what Ansel uses. In a pinch, almost anything in the right colors can be pressed into service, from Christmas ribbon to magic markers. If you don't have the real deal, use whatever you can get.

(And back to gore.)
Another interesting variation on triage is what Turq does: pick obvious injuries you know how to handle, treat them, and move on. Since bleeding out causes many preventable deaths in combat and in mass-casualty incidents, tourniquet application is a fast way to save lives if you have someone else to do the methodical triage. It's a very useful approach to someone with limited skills working alongside experts. Anyone can do some steps in triage, but not everyone can do them all. Save the experts for what only they can do. Just assisting injured people to the triage line is a great help in cases like this when they arrive in waves fleeing a hot zone. This also prevents one of the major problems in triage: if all you do is focus on methodical sorting, you'll lose most of the heavy bleeders while you're paying attention to someone else.

While researching conventional triage systems, I also found this empath triage system. It's aimed at everyday encounters, however, rather than disaster scenes. I have personally handled emotional first aid at a disaster scene, so let me create a basic triage routine for that:

* The first thing you do in an emergency is case the scene. The second is pick a job. If you have selected Emotional First Aid, then:

* Do a wide sweep of the whole scene looking for people who are obviously melting down. If these are present, treat emotional meltdown first. These are the people most likely to go into shock, run into traffic, or otherwise suffer bad outcomes without immediate aid. In a mass-casualty incident, you will need to judge who needs your help the worst and who you can help the most. Probably you can treat just one severe emotional casualty. These people need the most help because they are invisibly bleeding out. Some won't be able to talk, and the ones who can, usually can't think clearly. They need someone to keep them physically safe and mentally buffered until they calm down enough to make their own decisions or you can hand them off to a friend or professional. Regrettably local-America doesn't offer much emergency psychological care unless the person is trying to hurt themselves or someone else, but helplines and a few other resources do exist.

* If nobody is melting down, make another sweep looking for people who are crying, throwing up, or otherwise showing moderate signs of distress. Sometimes you can get several of these to come together a little distance from ground zero so you can talk to them all at once. Stay calm, say reassuring things, and help them regain their emotional equilibrium if possible. Refer them to outside sources if those become available. This group has fairly consistent needs, mainly someone to lean on, and you can usually get them settled enough to begin self-care, which is mostly what they need to recover.

* If there are no obvious signs of distress, move through the crowd and look for people who are quietly upset. Try to identify who witnessed the event and/or knows someone involved, as they are likely to be upset even if they don't show it. If you pass the word that you're offering EFA, the "walking wounded" can come gather around you. Should the incident be big enough to last a while and involve supplies, put up a sign saying "Emotional First Aid." In local-America you may be the only one with those skills, but occasionally a professional may show up and take over for you. Among this group of people needing help, what some of them need will be a practical task to do. Look around, there's almost always something that needs done at a disaster scene. Some people can minimize their risk of crystallizing intrusive memories if they ram in something more positive. Others need to talk or sit quietly. You'll see the most diversity in this group, and you need to talk with them to find out what each person needs.

* Keep an eye out for secondary casualties. In a bad scene, sometimes one of the citizen responders or first responders will stagger away to go throw up, cry, or lean against a tree trying to pretend they're not freaking out. It's most prone to happen if they lose a patient, especially a child, but sometimes sheer overload or something else will do it. Ask how they are and if they need help. Responders of any type are more likely to have enough coping skills to say what they need. They're also more likely to snap "I'm fine!" Well, at least you tried.

* After you have taken care of other people's emotional needs, do a self-check. How are you feeling psychologically and physically? Do you need to use the bathroom, eat, drink, or lie down? How do you plan to process your experiences? Depending on the situation, you may feel relatively okay, somewhat stressed, or freaked out. Try to estimate the amount of damage you have taken, if any, and treat it accordingly. Here's a checklist for when you feel awful that covers most of the basics.

Remember, if all you do is keep someone from getting hit by a car or developing PTSD, you probably just saved a life. Go you.


Now here's a routine for ushers, soul workers, and other people with gifts relevant to helping the dying or dead instead of the living:

* Case the scene and select a job. If you have selected soul assistance, be as discreet as possible! It is not widely practiced in most modern societies, and if people catch you doing it, they may well knock the mop out of your hands before you can finish up. Consider these steps:

* If you can help the dying, start there. (See combat triage tips for physical clues to impending death, but most people who choose this task have subtle senses for that purpose.) You can prevent the most damage in this position. Just because they are "expectant" doesn't mean it's okay to let them suffer.
** If you can get close enough to touch them, try to find a relatively undamaged hand or other body part to hold. Talk to the person and work to keep them calm. They are more likely to have trouble transitioning if they are panicking. (In this, it's exactly like childbirth, and some of the same techniques help.) If they can breathe well, you can coach them on calm breathing or pain control breathing. If they're struggling to breathe, you can try muscle relaxation or invite them to listen to your breathing. Different techniques will work depending on why they are dying. What matters most is making sure they know they're not alone, and offering them something to focus on. If they can speak, ask about their religion if any. Knowing that lets you make a specific call for assistance from the death escort(s) of that tradition, or provide passing prayers if you or the victim know them. Otherwise you'll have to rely on your own.
** If you can't get close to the dying person, which is common with emergency personnel on scene, then you can still help by making a call to whatever death escort(s) you work with. It's basically like calling an ambulance, just for a later stage in the journey. If you're on good working terms with the most common religion in that locale, ask for their assistance too. In addition to spirit work, you also have the option of notifying a nearby church or prayer circle, which is a good idea with a messy incident that's going to hit tomorrow's papers. Some congregations have established methods for handling this stuff.
** Ethics vary by tradition and individual regarding whether or not to assist in the direction of a soul's travel. However, the majority seems to consider it acceptable to help the soul in whichever direction it is striving toward, whether it is trying to kick free of a mangled body or cling as long as possible. Sometimes souls make a choice that might have fraught outcomes, but it's their choice. It is advisable to know your stance before encountering this dilemma, as some individuals are only comfortable helping in one direction and others not at all.

* If nobody is actively dying, check for the recently dead. Quite often, a sudden violent death confuses the soul, and they're prone to getting stuck instead of moving on. You can help them and everyone else by assisting them on their way.
** If a soul is obviously panicking, first try to calm them down. Discourage them from wandering away at random, attaching to the spot of demise, or trying to crawl back into their dead body.
** If you can read the "ticket" that comes with religious affiliation, you can put them directly on that "route" yourself. People with strong faith typically know what they should expect upon death, but sudden death is as disorienting as a whack over the head and anyone can be knocked off course by it. This group of souls is easiest to help because all they need is a reminder and a nudge -- they'll usually snap out of the daze and make a beeline for their beloved destination.
** If you can open a door between worlds, just doing that is often sufficent to attract newly deceased souls to go through it; if not, you can gently shoo them along. If they have a preset destination, it will automatically take them there; if not, it lets out into the collective "bus station" where they will quite probably have no idea what to do, but that's okay because there are death escorts whose job it is to gather up the lost ones and help them figure out where to go. All you really need to do is get them through the gate. Remember that opening this door tends to be exhausting and is likely the last thing you'll be able to do. Make sure you have appropriate backup before doing it.
** If you can't do either of the more advanced things above, then call whatever death escort(s) you work with and ask them to handle the situation. They have more resources than you do.

* If you're not sure whether or not someone has died on scene, follow your tradition's guidelines for that situation. Souls who bounce well may fall out of their body and go right to their chosen route, even after an unexpected departure, and those rarely leave a trace. But some traditions have stuff you're supposed to say or do to keep the area clean and safe after any major mayhem or possible death.

* Sometimes the dying or the dead may give you a message to pass along. This may or may not be possible, but do your best.

* After taking care of others, check your own spiritual and other welfare. Apply self-care as needed.

* After leaving the scene, you may wish to plan for prayer, ritual, or other spiritual activities to soothe the soul(s) of the departed and the bereaved.

Remember that many people are afraid of dying in general and dying alone most of all. If what you can do is ease that passage, you've done a good job.


(These links are intense.)
A mass casualty incident is one where the number of casualties exceeds the personnel and/or supplies available to treat them. It doesn't take a huge number -- a handful will do it if you only have one medic and a couple of beds. This requires special planning to handle critical resource shortages. It's also important to account for sudden peaks in demand. A few local-American hospitals have a proper surge plan, but many do not. Read about how one hospital developed a surge plan and see what it looks like. Terramagne has much wider use of surge plans. T-America requires them for emergency services such as hospitals, police, and fire departments. In this case, the support commander is using Surge Yellow when they need extra first-responder hands (like Ansel) and Surge Red when they're desperate enough to take civilian aid (like Turq).

(These links are messy.)
Location of injury matters a lot. This Hollywood map of gunshot wounds has some accuracy and some inaccuracy. The hospital version is more reliable but less comprehensive. Compare those to charts for vulnerable body parts, lethal targets, and major blood vessels. As you can tell from the poem, the raid generated a significant number of frag wounds (mostly on lower body), beam rifle and gunshot wounds (mostly higher up), and miscellaneous things like electrical burns (at point of contact).

Blood is notoriously difficult to remove. I found instructions for cleaning household items, but not people. There are disposable scrub brushes that can help. Hand sanitizer only kills germs and is nearly useless for removing blood or dirt. Antiseptic is skin-safe and good at killing germs, but its cleaning ability varies. T-America has blood remover wipes and cleanser for emergency workers. That's so much better.

Giant stick-on numbers are useful for labeling things in an emergency -- or in this case, suspects.

Memory can be influenced by mood, context, and other factors. It's kind of like the Dewey Decimal System in a library -- your brain links related things, because if you want one fact about first aid, you're likely to want more, so it brings up your experiences in first aid training. Nearby are sections on anatomy and disaster response.

(These links are intense.)
Similarly, trauma triggers open up a can of worms containing intrusive memories of misery. Traumatic stress is fundamentally a filing error that causes those memories to replay at inopportune times. Since memory is plastic, techniques like RID, counterconditioning, or anchoring can erode triggers over time. Creating new positive memories over a layer of trauma reduces the amount of conscious awareness those negative experiences occupy. Turq has batches of very strong positive and negative memories, which creates an erratic pattern of response. But he's getting better -- what he did today, he couldn't have done several months ago. For as much as he went through, he is healing astoundingly fast.

(This link is heinous.)
Mengele is a rude term for a mad scientist who experiments on nonconsenting subjects, particularly people with superpowers. There is deep, ugly history of atrocities committed in the pursuit of science without compassion, which makes soups extremely sensitive to issues of medical ethics. More disturbingly, it can start with small things that seem innocuous and then slide down into atrocities; people are keenly aware of that slippery slope. Like telepathic violation, this kind of abuse tends to be a very short route to a Go Home Charlie. Naries are less inclined to use a word as foul as "mengele" but they are still alert to the dangers; soups, who are preferred targets for unwelcome experimentation, will go for the throat. It derives from Dr. Mengele of Nazi infamy.

A police lineup offers victims a way to identify perpetrators. Various factors can influence its accuracy. In this case, Ansel invites Turq to point out specific assailants from among captured suspects. This option is often offered to victims at the scene of a crime. There are tips for describing a suspect.

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