In May of 2013 a series of very large tornadoes struck central Oklahoma, devastating several small towns and suburban areas of Oklahoma City. The most notorious of these was an EF5 tornado, the most powerful and destructive classification. Over one mile wide with winds above 200 miles per hour, it struck Moore on May 20, eight miles from our home. Though I have traveled halfway around the world to provide trauma relief following disasters, this was the first time such an event had occurred in my own ‘back yard’.
Lenise and I were returning from an extended teaching trip in Los Angeles. We had completed a weekend workshop in Albuquerque New Mexico and were traveling home on the 20th. We noted the storm forecast and delayed our departure in order to reach Oklahoma behind the storm. Along the way we were able to stream the local NPR station, KGOU, out of Norman. We listened with deep concern as the reports came in about the great tornado approaching Moore. Like many others, we were stunned and dismayed to hear of the destruction the storm left behind. Twenty-three people were killed and the local hospital was destroyed along with two elementary schools, one in which there were seven child fatalities.
We arrived at our home just after dark and as we unloaded the vehicle that night, although our thoughts were with the extensive work we had just completed, we knew a great project was ahead. I went to my office the next day, Tuesday, to see clients and begin making plans to help with trauma recovery for those impacted by the storm. On Wednesday I learned that supplies were being distributed from the First Baptist Church of Moore. When my client appointments were finished, I traveled to the church to see how First Medicines could be of assistance. I had learned from our work in New Orleans after Katrina that The Five Minute Miracle, a simple method of guided relaxation with hands-on treatment, was highly effective in reducing distress during disaster recovery. There I had discovered that the best place to offer the intervention was where people came to receive food and supplies. When I surveyed the operation at the church, I found the perfect spot of high traffic that would serve as a resting spot for individuals. I introduced myself to the staff at the church and explained the program. They would need to get approval and were shutting things down for the night; we agreed that I would return the next day to help out.
I arrived at the church at about one o’clock on Thursday. Although I had scoped the front drive as the preferred spot for my chair, I walked through the church to the medical area where I knew the counselors were working. I entered the large hall, passing food service tables, dining table and chair settings, bedding areas, and finally the medical services, situated in a far corner of the room. I introduced myself to Kristi, who was managing the area, and explained my services. She asked if I could also offer the treatment to providers who were at risk of secondary trauma, to which I responded that we supported every level of care. I identified the ideal spot for the chair at the approach to the medical area and offered her a treatment. She was happy for the break. Soon a volunteer approached, an elderly gentleman wearing a bright yellow jacket and ID tag. He was happy for the treatment. I noticed his labored breathing settle during the treatment. Afterward he thanked me and reported that his headache had gone away. I treated an insurance adjuster who was having trouble with allergies, then sat patiently waiting for the next visitor to the chair. I played my flute a little and wandered over to the snack table and around the hall to gain a greater scope of the set-up. The day drifted by like one of those camp days in which a quiet lull becomes the harbinger of a grand event.
At about five, a nurse from the medical area approached me and asked me to bring my flute. She said the doctor was asking for me. We walked behind the partition in the corner that served as a make-shift exam room and there sat the doctor, an African-American woman about my age, and a younger woman seated in a wheel chair. The doctor asked me to play my flute. She said that the woman reported that music helped her relax, so she asked me to just play for a while to help her. She had a stitched wound near her elbow and the medical team was examining a wound on her back. The woman was weeping in the chair and as I played, she quieted her weeping and she became more calm. Moments later she began to weep again. Kristi sat beside me, the two of us witnessing the deep suffering of the woman. I asked her what was troubling her.
“I was in the Plaza Towers School.” She said. “Why did I make it out?” Her whole body collapsed into weeping.
I shifted positions to sit directly in front of her and, looking squarely into her eyes, said “I can’t say why, but you survived, you made it out and you are safe now and receiving care.”
“The children,” she said, “those poor little babies!” She collapsed again into my supporting hands as Kristi continued to feed her tissues to wipe her tears and reached out to embrace her as well.
She began to recount the event. She told of how she had run to the school, only a block from her home, to make sure that her eight-year-old son was safe. She reported that she met with the other students and teachers and huddled in the hallway, covering her son with her body as the tornado struck. She reported, with physical retching, the horrendous and indelible sound of the storm mingled with the screams of the children as the doors were blown open by the wind, casting debris throughout the now-darkened abyss. She reported feeling a breeze on her back that felt like a blowing fan and thought to herself how strangely refreshing it felt.
As the torrent settled, she crawled, with her son, toward a supply closet that was now blown open and, casting the supplies out to make space, dragged herself and her son into the cloistered space to brace for the next wave. After some time they concluded that the storm had passed and scrambled back out of the closet, only to see the wall had fallen on several of the other children. A deep moan rose from within as she spoke of seeing a child beneath the wall.
“I’m so very sorry,” I said, as she clutched my hands more tightly. “We have you now, you made it out and you are safe.” I repeated.
During this time, an EMT and a nurse were treating a wound on her back. They reported that they would need to clean it deeply and numb the area to do so. As they injected the numbing agent into her back, I held her hands and pressed pain relieving points while helping her release pain through breathing.
We continued our talk, with her now in less emotional distress as the work was being done to help her physically. We talked about the survival of her home, the things she was doing to put things back in order, and the welfare of her son. She had good support from her husband who was with the boy playing with others in the larger area of the room.
A voice spoke from behind. “We’re going to have to remove something here and you will probably feel it a bit.” She grasped my hands even tighter and grimaced as the med attendants removed an object with tweezers and held it up to examine it. “It’s a piece of tree bark. It’s out now, so this should start healing nicely.” They dressed the wound and, after giving her instructions on wound care, released her from the treatment area. I offered to give her a Five Minute Miracle Treatment and informed the doctor, Laura Asher, that I was going to give her a stress relief treatment.
“Great!” she said. “But then come right back, I’ve got someone else here in real trauma.”
I wheeled her back out to the area we had set up and elected to treat her in the wheelchair in order to keep pressure off of her injured back. I explained the treatment and put the headphones in place, started the recording, and rested my hands upon her shoulders. Tears began to stream down her face as she listened. I stepped to the side of her chair and, raising her right hand, placed it over her heart with my hand on top of it. The tears continued to flow as the sounds of playing children and recovery activities echoed throughout the large room. Soon her face lost the embrace of suffering and began to soften, even brighten. Her tears seemed now to be less of sorrow and more of gladness and resolution. In time, I picked up my flute and played as the recording took her through the awakening process. She opened her eyes and looked directly at me with such gratitude and compassion. She had weathered another storm, the torrent of her emotional stirrings, and had come through with grace and strength. We sat and talked for a few minutes as her husband and son approached and introduced themselves. Her son, himself a survivor of the horror, was contented playing with the other children. He told me of the ordeal he had been through, but showed few signs of distress. I gave her a CD and additional contact information with instructions to contact me if she needed any further help.
I returned to the treatment area to find a different doctor and a team of nurses sitting with the gentleman I had been directed to. He showed the clear indications of one who had been through his reported experience, helping to recover children from the destroyed school. He was wrapped in a blanket; his face was blank and flushed as though he was in a cold sweat. He was weak from lack of sleep and nutrition. I sat beside the doctor and patiently listened as he spoke to the man with such skillful words of comfort and support. I was so impressed and filled with a sense of privilege to hear how masterfully this doctor, who looked like he had just stepped off a “The Doctors of Disaster” film set, reviewed the need for self-care after the success of helping so many others. He was not alone in his remarkable ability. After he had given reassurance, the nurses stepped right in to provide him with recommended medicines, giving clear instructions as a plate of food was brought in to help strengthen him.
I returned to my chair treatment area to find it occupied. A woman who was just a little older than me was sitting restfully in the chair and when I approached she looked up and said “They told me to sit here and get some stress relief.” After explaining the treatment, she consented to receive care and handed me her glasses. After the treatment concluded, she reported how at ease she now felt and how much she wished her son could receive the same treatment. She told me that her granddaughter had been in the school and had not survived, that the family was trying to make arrangement for a funeral, but they had also lost their home and were completely disoriented. I gave her a CD and written script to share with family members and encouraged her to send them for treatment if possible.
As I completed my treatment, Kristi informed me that there would be a funeral at the church on the next day, so I organized the treatment area and headed home. The events and reports of the day reverberated throughout me as I walked to the car and drove up I-35 to the house. As I drove through The Paseo, a local arts district, I observed the goings-on of people at our familiar hangout enjoying the day. They seemed very far away, as though they were existing in an altered dimension. Even the sunlight seemed a little strange. I arrived home and sat with Lenise to enjoy a beverage in the back garden. As we spoke, I noticed a sense of stirring within, as though I was there and not there at once. I asked for a moment, closed my eyes and listened to the singing birds around me, smelled the air, referenced the traffic on the nearby roadway, and brought myself back to my home. When I opened my eyes I felt as though I had returned again from a very faraway place. I understood now how this ‘secondary trauma’ could easily take place without notice. I was thankful for the tools I had to treat myself.
DAY 2: May 24, 2013
When I arrived at the church at about 9 am, I noticed a grand commotion on the street. There were motorcycles everywhere. I parked across the street since it appeared that the parking lot was full. As I walked toward the church, I observed the riders all standing around talking, but also somehow on guard. There were motorcycles filling the entire front lot and along the feeder road. It seemed like a thousand riders filled the lot. When I asked why the bikers were there I was told that there was a funeral being held for a child that been killed in the school. There was a report that the church that protests funerals was going to be there and the bikers had gathered to shield the family from their hateful presence. This great tide of rumbling black leather and chrome seemed to me like a divine hand of protection, there to hold this precious grieving family in a place of grace during their sorrow.
I went inside and set up the chair and treatment area. When I had it all ready, I sat down with my flute and began playing. A group of young men approached me from across the room. They were curious about the flute. They were clearly part of the volunteer groups that were going out to help in the tornado zone. I introduced myself to each of them, receiving a solid handshake each time. One of them was wearing a Marine Corps t-shirt, but I could tell he was just finishing high school. He told me he had enlisted and would be going to boot camp later in the summer. I thanked them for their efforts to help those affected by the storm.
As soon as I returned to the treatment area, one of the nurses approached me and said the doctor wanted me to come and play my flute for a patient. She took me to a makeshift cubicle adjacent to the exam area and introduced me as “our music therapist” to a young woman and the gentleman beside her. As I took my seat, I heard her story of the destruction of her home, dispersed family members, missing medicines, transportation issues, all of the sudden concerns of this victim of the tornado. Beside her the gentleman, Jeremy, listened to her story and nodded along. At some point I began playing a calming song, as she was in a very excited and concerned state. After she completed her report, Jeremy reviewed each issue and the actions that were being taken to resolve them. He then offered to help her relax and let her body come back into balance. He had her close her eyes and directed her to make certain muscles tight and then relaxed, beginning with her toes and moving through each major area all the way to the face. I played throughout, delighting in observing the use of this progressive relaxation method and the tranquilizing effects it had on the woman. When he finished, he asked her to open her eyes. She reported that she felt much more calm and in control of her breathing. She looked at me and thanked me for my song.
After Jeremy completed his work with her, I offered to also provide a Five Minute Miracle Treatment. She followed me back the chair and took a seat. She was wrapped in a blanket; the a/c was keeping the room chilly and she reported feeling cold. I gave her a treatment and left her bundled in the chair for a while until she felt warm and rested.
One of the doctors approached me and said how much he appreciated hearing my flute music. He told me how he felt it really brought a calming influence to the entire environment and that he thought that was helpful for everyone. I thanked him and felt it odd that I had brought such dynamic methods as hypnotic trauma recovery and The Five Minute Miracle Stress Relief Treatment to help and the most appreciated thing was my flute.
Fulton Wright joined me to help with treatments just before lunchtime. His help allowed us to continue offering treatments while I was available to go play for traumatized patients. This also enabled me to offer continued treatment to those I played for. Working together, we were able to keep different individuals in the chair under treatment for most of the afternoon. In time, the doctors themselves were bringing storm victims over for their “stress relief” treatment from us after their medical needs were met.
Throughout the day there was continuous operational activity going on around us. Teams were assembling, prepping, planning, and departing together into the field. Coordinators were managing the flow of people and supplies. In the larger part of the room, tables were set up to provide food buffets to keep everyone fed. In the hallways and rooms of the church were supplies of every kind. The entry to the church was like a command center. Brigades of volunteers ferried or directed residents from the drive, where trucks were unloading pallets of water, food, and other donated supplies, to the specific room that contained the items they needed. The hallway was brimming with baby food and diapers different rooms contained food, clothing, repair materials and tools, and toys. The food and medical services area was in the back of the building.
Late in the day I was informed that the Medical Services were to be moved from the building on the following day. They were beginning to pack things for transit when Fulton and I also decided to go home and take our own rest. I had a two-day health fair to work and would have to find them at their next location after the weekend.
Day 3: May 27, 2013
We learned that the medical services had been moved from the church in Moore to the First Baptist Mission Center in south Oklahoma City. On Monday I arrived at the center at a little before 9 and entered the small building to see how I might be able to help. The medical supplies had been relocated there, as were a few of the team I recognized from working together on Friday. Soon Dr. Asher arrived and, seeing me, said “Oh, I’m glad you’re here. Did you bring your flute? Are you able to go out into the field with us today?”
I had some afternoon appointments that I would need to cancel, but the question had only one answer. “Sure. Let me make some adjustments to my schedule first.” I replied. I called my wife Lenise to let her know I was going out into the field, and then called to reset my appointments. I gathered my supplies into my small bag, grabbed my flute, and joined the others who were waiting for our transportation to take us where our help was needed. Our destination was Little Axe, a small community east of Oklahoma City that had been hit by a tornado the night before the Moore tornado. Due to the impact on Moore, it was reported that Little Axe had received no field medical attention in the entire week since the event.
Our group loaded into two old church vans and headed east on I-40. Along the way Dr Asher spoke with us about our objectives and abilities to help the storm victims. I enjoyed the drive out, as it is a direction I seldom travel. We exited the interstate and traveled south along a small highway through heavily wooded rural terrain. In time we came to a congested traffic area. Large work vehicles were loading debris from piles along the road. Utility service vehicles were on station to repair lines. Stands of trees were twisted and ripped apart. The homes that could be seen were shredded. We had entered the tornado impact zone.
Once past the single-lane work zone, we drove a few more miles to a highway intersection and turned into a nearby fenced area in front of a moderately-sized metal building. It was the local community center and was being used as a resource center for the area. The parking area was congested with pallets of bottled water and the interior was filled with supplies. A guard at the gate confirmed that those entering were locals or relief workers. As we disembarked from the van, we were greeted by coordinators who were also guiding a couple of state and national representatives through the operation.
After a few minutes of cordialities and discussions, we loaded back into the vehicles and headed out to the affected area. Driving through wooded areas off of the main road, we arrived at a secluded housing community. We again unloaded from the vehicle and Dr. Asher instructed two different teams on the objective to connect with every person we could to learn if there was injury, illness, or trauma. The team members had assembled medication packets and were equipped with blood pressure and glucose monitoring gear as well. The first house was intact, although there were debris piles in front of it and several houses nearby. The occupant informed us that she was fine, but that ‘over the hill’ was a group of seriously damaged homes.
As we drove over the rise and around the corner, we were confronted with the true impact of the storm. This area of homes with large acreages around them was really torn up! The road was clear, but giant debris piles lined it. We rounded one corner and saw a group of individuals working on a property with no roof, only broken brick walls and a fireplace that they were wrestling from its precarious broken perch on top of the house. We stopped to assess and render aid. The team approached the workers and inquired of need and, once seeing all was well, continued to the next property.
Further down the road we arrived at a small house with an elder gentleman and his son and grandson. They were hard at work cleaning up the yard. Dr Asher called me over to play flute while the nurses checked the grandfather out. A diabetic, they wanted to make sure he had his medicines and that his glucose and blood pressure were fine. I sat and played as phone calls were made and all was determined to be fine. I was impressed by the way the team worked together, not just the medical team, but also the family team. I also observed the great difficulties managing a simple concern such as regular medications could be in this devastation.
We climbed back aboard the vans and traveled to another location to the south and west. It was a picturesque Oklahoma landscape of rolling hills, low trees, and open fields. It was a vibrant green from the generous rains of the season. Across the landscape, however, were stripped house pads, shredded trees, and motor vehicles scattered and tumbled here and there. I was particularly amazed at the destruction of the vehicles. It was not like in a movie in which vehicles are thrown, tumble, and land. These vehicles were thrashed from every direction, as though they had been tumbled across stones at high velocity. Lodged against a stand of trees I saw the remnants of an RV. Only the toilet and base of the sofa were identifiable in the twisted wreckage of the chassis. Standing on a high ridge, I could see that the landscape was speckled with similar insults. The swath of destruction seemed nearly half a mile wide and stretched on for miles.
We met with one family, a mother and several young children, that were completing clean-up on their lot. The house was gone. The team checked in on their medical needs, and as they were loading up to head back to their hotel refuge, I gave the mother a copy of The Five Minute Miracle script to read later to herself or to her children. On the bare concrete house pad on the next lot we met a couple who had pitched tents right on the pad and had been there for the week helping with clean-up. They were from Minnesota and were preparing to return home, so they checked with our team about a suitable place to leave the supplies they brought for storm victims.
We continued our trek and found a gentleman who had been coordinating the needs of the community during the previous week. A local minister, he had surveyed the community and knew the specific concerns of each resident. He directed us to three individuals whom he felt could use our assistance.
The first was a Native American man who had returned home from a hospitalization for stroke in the days before the storm. When we approached the small trailer home, we could see that it was just on the edge of the storm path. There was some debris here and there, but the house was fine. As the team assembled to approach the door, Dr. Asher turned to me to be sure I was in the parade. She seemed to have a priority that those who needed care needed calming music most. She approached the door and introduced herself to an individual within. Soon a gentleman emerged from the door. He was also an older Native American ‘grandfather’. I noticed that he was wearing a Vietnam Vet cap, so I asked him about his service. I told him that my father was also a veteran of the Vietnam War and that he was always interested to meet other veterans of that and every other war. I told him that if he were there, he would shake his hand with a salute of gratitude as I have seen him do so many times. In my father’s absence, I offered my own hand and thanked him for his service. He continued to tell me stories of his tour of duty.
The nurses arrived with their testing gear, so I stepped aside to allow them to do their work. I took a seat on a stack of bricks in the drive and began to play. I played a song of friendship and respect for the residents, a song of kindness. At one point I looked down at my feet and those of the medical team and was delighted that we were all wearing similar shoes, athletic with good support. It made me feel like I was part of a team. I also noticed that this sea of shoes was encircling the seated gentleman and pondered that my soothing song was doing its best work to alleviate the stress that our team was causing by swarming him with care.
Dr. Asher continued to interview the gentleman throughout the intervention, querying him on his care for his post-hospitalization, community engagement, even his church involvement, seeking a picture of his social support. As he answered, he told her “I have my own religious ways, my own ways of praying that come from my traditions. Every morning I stand right here in this driveway and pray in my Cherokee language.”
“I would love to hear that.” Dr. Asher commented. “Can you pray a part of that prayer for us?”
He began to speak in the familiar, yet unknown language. Its beauty was like a song. I stopped playing in order to hear and honor his prayer. I have always loved hearing prayers in indigenous tongues; they carry the tone of prayer, but also the words that are foreign to me, sounding less like a speech and more like a song. In this place, the prayer sounded like a part of the world we were in, the natural world, resonating with the birds and the breeze in the tree.
“That’s how I make my prayer.” He said when he completed. “I prayed right here on this spot when the storm came. I came out to look and saw that great cloud coming this way. I prayed and watched it turn and go to the north, away from our property.”
“You spoke to our brother the wind?” I said.
“Yes”, he said. “I speak, and I listen. I hear the voices in nature. I am a part of this nature, the sun, the sky, the trees, we are all together here. I spoke to this storm, but it was an angry storm, a very angry wind. Something is happening; something is making this wind angry.”
Those still present nodded. The effects of the wind’s anger were all around us. We counted ourselves privileged to speak with this man and hear the story in such personal terms. We encouraged him to continue his prayers, to continue his good recovery. We left him there by the drive, but carried a gift of his spirit with us as we moved on to the next household in need.
On the far end of the road, on the other side of the tornado’s path, we met the other members of our team at another trailer house. We were told that everyone here was fine, but that a woman who was very ill with cancer was inside and could use a medical check. A very small group of us went inside and were directed to a bedroom at the back of the house. In the bedroom we found an elderly woman in bed. It was a hospital bed, elevated so she could sit upright; beside it was a hospital-style rolling tray table. These were the only indicators that the woman was ill. She seemed strong and in good spirits. She reported that her and her whole family was safe during the storm, that she was happy they had a shelter and the house was spared, as a close neighbor did not survive.
She spoke of her condition, that the doctors had given her only months to live, but that she still felt strong despite bouts of pain, particularly nerve pain in her feet. She said her main source of strength was her eight-year-old grandson who lived nearby. Each day he returned from school to spend time with her and that gave her strength to live from day to day. She also reported that she had very strong faith and was comforted by many promises that were in the bible.
One of the nurses on the team was also a nun from a contemplative order. Dr. Asher asked that she lead a prayer for the woman’s strength and we were all happy to participate. When complete, I suggested that we share The Five Minute Miracle with the woman to help her with her pain. I handed the script to Dr. Asher and asked her to read it aloud as I played flute, interjecting the grandson’s name where possible. With serenity I played as Dr. Asher read the script with precision, lacing in the power of love between a grandmother and grandson. When completed, I also gave the woman a set of beads along with the instruction to hold each of the twenty beads repeating the phrase “every day in every way I am better and better” or one of her favorite scripture ‘promises’. This Coue Method has been very helpful to reduce the type of pain she reported and I have used it extensively in the field to give ongoing tools after our interventions. After practicing one round with the beads she reported that it, along with the prayer and The Five Minute Miracle, had helped her feet to feel better. We left her in that comforted state and proceeded to the next stop.
We continued on the winding road until we arrived at yet another trailer home, this time right in the center of the tornado strike zone. The trailer was intact, but had large tarps covering the roof. A small travel-trailer was parked in the drive and that is where the team was directed. Because the trailer was quite small and the medical team needed to make its assessment first, I took a seat on a pile of materials on the side of the drive and began playing my flute. Nearby, someone was cutting up broken tree limbs with a chainsaw. I played a song on my small high-pitched pocket flute to give a loud enough song to join that made by the chainsaw and the birds nearby. I knew that though I played in the open space, my song was directed toward the one inside the trailer.
In time the nurses exited the trailer and I stepped within to determine if my tools would be helpful. I sat quietly in the tiny space as the woman, about my age, continued her report to Dr. Asher. She said that she had been staying there in the trailer for one week, since the day after the storm. The house was the home of her parents and they had come out to help them with the recovery since they were older and in diminished health. She reported that on the night of the storm, her parents were in the trailer and took refuge there in the living room. Her father had grabbed a mattress from a small bed to cover himself and her mother had turned the reclining chair on top of herself. They both prayed with diligence for protection as the tornado passed over their delicate home. To their wonder, when the storm had passed, they were fine, but the roof on each end of the trailer was torn away. Only the roof above them, at the center of the trailer, was left intact; they were safe and sound.
She was apologetic that she had not bathed in days, even professing that she was wearing the same clothes for a couple of days and was waiting for fresh clothes to arrive. She complained that she had not had much sleep, due to the heat. Her blood pressure was quite elevated and Dr. Asher felt that the stress on her being a helper was taking a strong toll on her health. I offered to provide her with a complete Five Minute Miracle Treatment, which the doctor remarked would be an excellent benefit.
From my pocket I produced a small bottle of oil. My ‘Magi Blend’ is a mixture of Cedarwood, Myrrh, and Frankincense. A splendid aromatic, the oils have the properties of calming, stabilizing, and uplifting the mind. I placed a little in the woman’s hands and had her inhale it. She received it with glee and relaxed backward to enjoy its calming effect. I asked her to lie down on the small sofa/bed. I explained the treatment to her and received consent to treat. I placed headphones on her, started the CD player and applied sanitizer to my hands. I began the treatment by resting my hands on her forehead and shoulder, more in a manner to be a supporting presence than to provide the ‘energy treatment’ of Reiki to produce a specific effect. In time I took her hands and placed them on her abdomen to help her learn to calm herself. I continued the hands-on treatment to her knees, ankles, and feet. Finally, I picked up my flute and played a song for her, a song of peace, rest, and strength. When the program was complete, she opened her eyes, took a comfortable breath, and said “wow, I had no idea how tense I was. It is remarkable how relaxed I feel now. That is an amazing treatment. Thank you.” I gave her a copy of the script, a CD, and a set of the plastic ‘Mardi Gras’ beads so she could receive continued benefits.
As the woman sat back upright and settled into her calm, Dr. Asher returned to the trailer with some medicines. In small plastic bags were medicines for her blood pressure and something to help her sleep. “When you are finished with these, I want you to go to the store and get some chamomile tea. It will give you similar benefits without the need to be medicated.” She instructed the woman compassionately. I was impressed to see the ‘First Medicines’ manner in which this doctor was providing simple and available solutions for continued well-being.
We departed the trailer together. The team was already loaded into the van. Those who had needs had been assessed and treated. It was time to return to the city. We departed the enclave and returned to the main highway. Along the drive, we passed by the destruction zone we had passed on the way in. Looking at the devastation now, after observing the personal impact, the force of impact seemed much more understandable. I was amazed to see how a whole stand of trees could be twisted and sheered, like a stalk of celery. The force of that angry wind was beyond comprehension.
Along the way, we discussed the different interventions of the day. Upon return to the mission center, we gathered in the small conference room to debrief. Dr. Asher conducted the session, giving us each a chance to express our own reflection of the day. She was as efficient in addressing our needs as she had been toward those we had met during the day. She thanked us for participating in the work. She would return home to Maryland the next day. Coordinators discussed how the work would continue, though this critical post-storm effort was now complete. I said my farewells and headed home.
Timothy L. Trujillo – Director, First Medicines