[originally published in KCN, November 2001; republished from Dr. Lamar’s spinalcolumnblog.com]
September 11, 2001. There’s no question about the magnitude of the tragedy that occurred on this day — exactly what the terrorists were looking for. But what they probably didn’t forecast was the altruistic backlash that rose up because of it. No, they didn’t tear us down — they built us up. Made us stronger than we’ve ever been as a nation. They’ve rekindled a spirit of patriotism that our founding fathers must have had. The words “United States,” “In God We Trust,” and “God Bless America” now have a deeper, more emotional tie than they’ve ever had for most of us.
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that has come from all of this is the tremendous debt of gratitude that we owe our nation’s firefighters, police, and paramedics. Men and women who are all too easily taken for granted, yet they continue to serve and protect us everyday — even if the day happens to be September 11, 2001.
What is perhaps even more remarkable was how we as a nation rallied together and supported their efforts. Virtually everyone, young and old, pitched in to some degree, offering what they could: their time, their talent, their energy, their prayers. It was this unified effort that has brought our nation to a new level.
You’ll understand then, why I got a pride-filled lump in my throat when I heard that many of my Eastern colleagues (over 500 of them), on their own accord, had packed up their portable adjusting tables and headed to Ground Zero.
“Take what you see on TV and multiply it by 20 and you have a clearer picture of how it is here”
Dr. Gary Deutchman, like so many of these chiropractors, felt a calling to lend a hand. Knowing his skills as a chiropractor might not be needed, he headed to the World Trade Center anyway, ready to shovel dirt or lift buckets. As it turned out, his skills as a chiropractor proved to be exactly what was needed. He explained that it was challenging in the beginning, as chiropractors were not yet officially recognized as service providers. Quick thinking and talking were in order on multiple occasions for Dr. Deutchman as he made his way past barricades secured by policemen and National Guard soldiers. His persistent maneuvering eventually brought him into the heart of the activity.
“You could feel the death in the air”
“…Thousands of uniformed firemen, policemen, and tradesmen were waiting to enter the destruction site. I was surrounded by equipment of all types, twisted metal and vehicles, buildings I once admired, now with shattered metal and glass hanging overhead,” Dr. Deutchman explained.
Deutchman wasn’t the only chiropractor to forge his way to the center. Dr. Glenn Scarpelli of Manhattan said about Ground Zero, “You could feel the energy. You could feel the death in the air.”
Still another D.C., Holly Tidwell, related the intensity of the scene by stating, “Take what you see on TV and multiply it by 20 and you have a clearer picture of how it is here.”
Despite these horrific circumstances, Dr. Deutchman knew he was in the right place. “My desire to share my gift told me this was the place to set up camp.”
Deutchman continued his story, “As the crowds of policemen, soldiers, firemen, and tradesmen came out of the destruction zone after hours of digging, passing buckets, and other more technical jobs, I would shout out, ‘Chiropractic over here, who’s next for chiropractic?’ Some people looked at me like I had two heads. Others would come over, so thankful we were there.” Fifteen hours later, he had treated several hundred people.
“My desire to share my gift told me this was the place to set up camp”
Chiropractic care was offered round the clock. “Everyone is getting adjusted,” reported Dr. Tidwell, “…the National Guard, the task force teams, the police, the Firefighters, the Red Cross and Salvation Army workers, the ironworkers, the volunteers…any and everyone.” She even added, “The dogs come back exhausted as well, and we have DC’s to adjust them and then they get massaged too.”
“If I was told once, I was told 100 times, how thankful everyone was that we were there to care for them. It was my honor to take care of these people,” chiropractor, Mark Guarino said. “They were there from every walk of life and were giving of themselves daily. I just did it for one night, with a lot of coffee.”
Commenting on the physical and emotional intensity of the situation, Tidwell stated, “It is admittedly sometimes hard to go back, but then you realize what they are going through and you want to.”
“If I was told once, I was told 100 times, how thankful everyone was that we were there to care for them. It was my honor to take care of these people”
The press started including chiropractors in their reports. An article running in The Beacon News led off, “Children handed out letters of thanks. Chiropractors offered adjustments. The American Red Cross gave away hugs.”
CNN reported in a story online, “Across the street from the World Trade Center, a Burger King with its windows blown out is a break area where food is served. The space next door — which used to be a shop — is now a rest area where volunteers give massages and chiropractic adjustments to weary workers.”
It wasn’t long until the chiropractors gained credentialing as “official providers.” Chiropractic associations secured permanent sanctioned locations at one of the high schools for hundreds of weary rescue workers to come and have their “power turned on.” Not all of the chiropractors were satisfied with this arrangement, however. Some wanted to be closer to the action. And, as with Dr. Deutchman, the tight security was only a minor road block in their determination. Some chiropractors were able to get a hold of passes that gave them higher levels of clearance, while others were able to quickly make friends with the right people. I read about a couple chiropractors that befriended a high ranking National Guard officer. Their efforts got them a ride in a camouflaged hummer to the site of destruction. Another chiropractor told of being driven in the back of a John Deer Gator non-stop through police checkpoints to the Red Cross ship, docked at Battery Park, where rescue workers were able to grab a meal and rest.
“For the next few hours, I had a line of people from every type of law enforcement agency and fire department from here to Canada waiting in line”
Dr. Deutchman also eventually made it to this ship. “I brought my portable table over to the ship and set up in the middle of the busiest area. I went up to one really large fireman and asked him if he wanted to get adjusted. I told him once everyone saw him get adjusted there would be a line, so he should be the first to get adjusted. He agreed, and the whole main deck was watching this guy in a white lab coat (me) adjust this big fireman. The place got a little quiet; I made my adjustment; and the guy got up and said, ‘Wow. That was amazing.’ For the next few hours, I had a line of people from every type of law enforcement agency and fire department from here to Canada waiting in line. Many of the people had never had a chiropractic adjustment [before].”
“We’re using just our hands and adjusting people from our hearts. People are lying down, we’re adjusting them, and they’re getting up with a smile….People are thrilled we’re there”
Chiropractic is being practiced in its purest sense at Ground Zero. “There are no x-rays, no exams, no paperwork, insurance, HMO acceptance, etc…just a lot of adjusting and a lot of love,” explained Michael Dorausch, D.C.
“We’re using just our hands and adjusting people from our hearts,” Dr. Scarpelli summed up. “People are lying down, we’re adjusting them, and they’re getting up with a smile….People are thrilled we’re there.”
What a gift these chiropractors were able to give to the mentally and physically overloaded rescue workers. Dr. Andrew Lacerenza, president of the New York State Chiropractic Association, stated that the stresses these workers were experiencing were beyond what we can even imagine. Even with that, he felt the chiropractic effort was making a “visible difference” —a difference that is hopefully offering a little relief to this tragic event.
Dr. Dorausch reported that many chiropractors told him that the care being provided was not necessarily about aches and pains, but rather was about “connecting man the physical with man the spiritual.” Chiropractors, regardless of their philosophical backgrounds, were “narrowing down their focus for a single purpose…move a bone and allow God to do the healing.”
Now that’s an adjustment we could all use.
Contributed by Dr. Thomas R. Lamar, DC.