Acupuncturists in the MRC
Santa Barbara County, California
As a volunteer organization for medical professionals, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) relies heavily upon having a wide variety of occupations available to assist the community in times of need. From EMT’s to RN’s, NP’s to Physicians, they will all have a role to play not only in times of disaster, but also in advocating public health and wellness.
Most MRC’s expand the traditional professions to include veterinarians and even non-medical logistical positions. All will have a role in assisting the victims of a disaster. But who will assist the responders? Yes, of course physical injuries and wounds will be tended to, but what about their stress and psychological needs? Having Psychological First Aid experts added to the cadre of medical professionals has become more and more the standard for Medical Reserve Corps units. They are available to assist both the victims and the responders cope with the mental trauma which is inherent in any disaster situation.
The Santa Barbara County (California) Medical Reserve Corps has expanded even further on the diversity of medical professionals in their ranks. Since February of 2010, a unique group was formed within our MRC unit utilizing local medical professionals you might not typically think of in a disaster scenario, Acupuncturists!
Currently, our acupuncture group consists of sixteen individuals. All of them, like all of our medical and non-medical volunteers, adhere to our corps requirements of ; CPR/AED/First Aid as well as ICS 100 and 700 trainings, all are sworn Disaster Service Workers and have successfully completed a DOJ and FBI livescan report.
How are these acupuncturists utilized is a disaster scenario? The best way to answer that question might be to describe their value in an actual deployment situation – the Santa Barbara “Tea Fire” of 2008. While the Fire Fighters and other first responders labored endlessly, fighting the wildfires and rescuing citizens shift after shift, their stress level and fatigue took a mounting toll on them. Even when not on the fire line, their down time was filled with anxiety as well as mental and physical exhaustion. Enter the acupuncture team. Through a method known as NADA protocol, small “ear needles” were placed in the patients ear. As reflexology isolates areas of the foot that relate to other areas of the body, so too does the ear. The acupuncture needles are placed in corresponding ear locations that will relieve the stress, anxiety and other ailments of the first responders. They were able to rest and relax more thoroughly, enabling them to work more effectively once they returned to the fire line. The results were amazing and the treatment was appreciated and very well received!
Our acupuncture group has become some of the more zealous members of our MRC. They are not only well organized and active, but constant proponents of healthy lifestyles through alternative medicine.
I would highly recommend the formation of an acupuncture group in any Medical Reserve Corps nationwide. I wholeheartedly support the spirit as well as the outstanding work of this fine group of medical professionals.
Richard W. Hovsepian
Santa Barbara County Medical Reserve Corps.