Riot control agent protocol

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This protocol is a draft. It has not yet been accepted as protocol and may be incorrect or poorly cited. Please do not use this in your work until it has been accepted.

Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.

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Red flagYou must call for backup, for example an ambulance if a person is not breathing or their breathing is worsening

Riot control agents are a set of chemicals commonly used by the state to disperse or otherwise inhibit the function of people they wish to control. Several chemical formulations exist, and differing delivery mechanisms (grenades dispersing a gas, sprays and pellets are common), however all known agents are aerosols of powder or liquid, and all have the same treatment and protocol.

The primary dangers of riot control agents are threats to the airway and trauma inflicted by crowds following their use.

Treatment of riot control agents is not limited to washing out eyes, and requires work before, during and after their use, for several days afterwards, and often extended mental health support.

This protocol describes the QueerCare method for dealing with riot control agents.

When to treat riot control agents

Riot control agents should be treated as part of your accident procedure.

If there are other injuries present (such as haemorrhages) or dangers, deal with these first.

What to do before treating riot control agents

If you think there is a strong chance riot control agents are going to be used, begin briefing potential targets before their use:

  • Explain the risks of panicking when they're deployed
  • Explain the physiological risks
  • Explain the importance of decontamination following their deployment

You must remove contact lenses, as the gas can be trapped behind them and in the eye, causing lasting damage.

You must wear appropriate PPE. For riot control agents this should be:

  • N95, N100, KN95, KN100, FFP2 or FFP3 masks, properly fitted and ideally in the form of a fitted respirator with interchangeable cartridges. Masks with exhalation valves should be used.
  • Goggles which seal around the eyes, such as swimming or diving goggles, should be worn.

In your "danger" step you should be especially conscious of crowds and your own breathing and ability to work through riot control agents.

When encountering airway issues, consider whether teargas may be a cause.

How to treat riot control agents

If you see riot control agents in the vicinity, work with the CRED acronym:


You should look for crowds of people running or potentially running, and urge them to walk quickly away from the incident: You can shout "WALK!" or "STAY CALM".

Look for people who may have fallen in the crowd and clear space around them, and prevent them from being further injured if you can.

(This is part of the Danger section of your accident procedure)


Red flagYou must call for backup, for example an ambulance if a person is not breathing or their breathing is rapidly worsening

The most significant danger from riot control agents is to the respiratory system. You must Look listen and feel for breathing issues, and move anyone having trouble breathing away from the incident as fast as possible.

If someone is having trouble breathing, you should try and find out if they have a preexisting respiratory condition, especially asthma, by asking them or their friends. If they do, give them their inhaler.

If someone, when clear of the agent, continues to worsen in their breathing or begins to lose consciousness, get definitive care.

(This is part of the Breathing section of your accident procedure)


Removing RCAs from the eyes can ease pain and reduce the risk of long-term eye injury.

  1. First, you must check for and remove any contact lenses.
  2. Next, you should hold the eye open by pulling back on the skin around the forehead and cheek.
  3. You must hold the head so water will flow directly out of the eye and not into the mouth, nose or across skin, spreading the chemical.
  4. Next, pour or gently squirt (for example, from a sports cap bottle or eye pod), water or saline into the eye.
    • You must use clean water (from a tap or commercial bottling plant) or sterile saline (from a pharmaceutically produced bottle or eye pod) to wash out eyes.
    • You must not use milk to wash out eyes. This is not tested in any manner and can cause adverse reactions.
    • You must not use oil to wash out eyes, as this absorbs and spreads the RCA, meaning it can linger on the skin.
    • You should not use suspensions of baking soda or other chemicals unless you can be sure it does not contain any crystals which would scratch the eye - if you are not doing this under supervision of a pharmacist or person with similar experience, you must not do this.
    • You can use a 1:1 ratio of Maalox to water, however you must be sure it only contains aluminium hydroxide and/or magnesium hydroxide, and not any other substances, and does not contain flavours or scents, which are harmful or untested. You must mix a recent batch, and ensure that the water and Maalox are in date and clean.

(This is part of the damage section of your accident procedure)


Following teargas exposure, you should warn the person to:

  • Remove their outer clothing before they enter a confined space, as RCAs can be dispersed from clothing, and when entering warm, enclosed spaces (such as transport, houses, etc) this can create concentrations of gas which re-gas people.
  • Put their clothes in a sealed container, such as a plastic bag, before washing them in a washing machine or similar.
  • Take a cold shower and wash thoroughly with soap or shampoo before taking a hot shower - teargas on the skin or hair can be dispersed by hot conditions, and re-gas people.

(This is part of the environment section of your accident procedure)

What to do after treating riot control agents

You must change or clean gloves to prevent spreading the RCA.