As wild fires ravaged San Diego, more than 500,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes, and seek shelter among the several sites open countywide. The largest of these refugee centers was Qualcomm Stadium where thousands went to wait for the fires to be controlled.
Evacuees at Qualcomm found healing for all types of ailments from exhaustion and stress, to more serious diseases like Diabetes at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s (PCOM) treatment area. PCOM’s students, alumni, and faculty volunteered their time and services to provide massage and NADA protocol acupuncture. PCOM was also assisted by Helio Medical Supply and Bodywork Emporium, both companies donating needles and supplies, while PCOM alumni, Ryan Altman’s non-profit organization, the Alternative Healing Network, helped organize and execute the volunteer effort at Qualcomm.
One local evacuee, Denise Gaitan, received a massage to relieve her stress. “I feel really relaxed now,” said Gaitan. “It’s a very tough time, and this is a great momentary relief from a tense situation.”
Treatments were available not just for evacuees, but also for those who volunteered their time to aid the relief effort.
Cynthia Jackson volunteered her time at the kids stations, sought out acupuncture for stress relief and high blood pressure. “I have a whole new outlook,” said Jackson. “Julia did a wonderful, gentle job, and handled me with a lot of love. I definitely plan on coming to the clinic for acupuncture.”
PCOM student Julia Sanfilippo volunteered her services at Qualcomm saw a noticeable difference in the evacuees and volunteers that she treated. ‘People seem much more relaxed,” said Sanfilippo. “I’ve treated more than ten people in first few hours I’ve been here, and in each patient I think treatment was effective for them.”
PCOM arrived at Qualcomm first thing Tuesday morning, and was there until the end when Qualcomm shut its doors, placing the remaining evacuees in the hands of the San Diego Red Cross. During those three days of treatment hundreds of evacuees were treated, as well as nurses, EMT’s and volunteers who were assisting with the relief effort.
PCOM faculty member Bob Johnson worked to organize alumni and students to provide acupuncture treatments for fatigue at the firefighters checkpoint. PCOM volunteers joined forces with Acupuncturists Without Borders to provide treatments to firefighters at Gillespie field. The firefighters were given half hour long auricular treatments, geared towards fatigue, the strengthening of the lungs and immune system, as well as musculoskeletal problems.