Taking RISC: Program Trains Reporters How To Save Lives in War Zones

By Ely Brown

Apr 12, 2013 11:31am

In a back lot behind the Bronx Documentary Center in New York City, smoke bombs burn with eye-tearing intensity, speakers blast the sounds of over head fighter jets and exploding munitions, and 24 freelance journalists are struggling with bandages, tourniquets and the stress of “combat” while performing first aid on grievously wounded mannequins.

Welcome to RISC, Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues.

After Tim Hetherington was killed by mortar fire while covering the civil war in Libya, his fellow filmmaker and friend Sebastian Junger was haunted by the possibility that Hetherington could have survived his injuries if those around him had known proper first aid. In the wake of Tim’s death, Junger started RISC, an organization with the sole aim of teaching freelance reporters how to operate like army medics.

“It’s a completely free, three-day intensive medical training course for battlefield, frontline medicine,” Junger said. “They’re not just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. They realize the have the skills and equipment to deal with most combat medical emergencies.”

ABC News’ Bob Woodruff dropped in on the latest training session up in the Bronx and spoke with Sawyer Alberi, a medic with the Vermont National Guard and RISC’s head trainer. Her clothes covered in fake blood, Alberi took the journalists through intense life-saving drills. “You guys are right out there in the middle of it and there really is no reason why you shouldn’t be trained on how to save your own life if something bad goes down.”

As for what Tim might think about the project, RISC’s deputy director Lily Hindy told Woodruff, “He would be extremely proud and grateful for the legacy that he left.”

The documentary “Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” premieres on HBO April 18.

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