Documenting Chiropractic Relief Efforts at Ground Zero

By Dr. Madeline Behrendt, D.C.

Excerpted with permission from Pearls of Wisdom

What if I told you there is a Chiropractic story more popular than news about real electronic brains, or medical stories from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard, is that something you might be interested in? Perhaps that’s a story you’d like to create.

Could you? Would you?

I did.

I see the Chiropractor as protagonist: trained to serve, battle-tested by health care’s flaws, and patrolling her beat in pursuit of promoting life force.
Is this how the world sees Chiropractors? Not sure. I thought it was time.

Of course, every story starts from your own.

I am the daughter of an Irish newspaperman and grew up running around the New York Times. I am the granddaughter of a tough Newark police detective, Sunday suppers with my German grandpa served potato salad and crime lore. Born a Jersey girl, I’d run to the tippy top of my cul-de-sac to stare at New York City’s Twin Towers, icons of all that was suppose to be impossible, made real, gleaming in the sun. I am a Yankees fan, and madly devoted to the NY Giants since a zygote. NYC is where my soul found its home, inhaling the city’s creativity and marking memories all over town. I have survived a lot. Life is good.

And then September 11, 2001 arrived. America attacked.

That day started like any other, by mid morning, that day started a movement. Mothers, musicians, clergy, chefs, and Chiropractors asking: What can we do? I asked, as many of you did. But what?

So I added up my heritage and my history and decided to record history. Newsman + detective + NY + champion + survivor + Chiropractor = documenting the Chiropractic relief efforts at Ground Zero.

To never forget the lost, honor the relief workers, and record the service of Chiropractors: What did they do? What did they say? What really happened?
Because in a time that demanded everything, Chiropractic was there.

Do students, training to deliver Chiropractic, know these stories?
Do Chiropractors, practicing, think about service?

This is what they are missing:

Groups of police officers stripped their flack jackets off and each dropped a pile of guns at the foot of a Chiropractic bench, it was unsettling to see an arsenal of firearms at the foot of an adjusting table. There were some state troopers who wanted to get adjusted but also wanted to keep their Kevlar vests on. They were guessing that my hands could penetrate where bullets couldn’t reach.
-Dr. John Przybylak, DC, Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy
Informal efforts are where the story begins. On 9-11 as downtown disappeared into piles of steel and ash, New Yorkers reappeared and opened their hearts; Chiropractors hurried out of office shelters into sites of attack, delivering care.

Formalities were soon installed as Ground Zero declared a crime scene requiring the highest levels of security clearance. Now the New York Chiropractic Council had a groundbreaking crisis to resolve: how to get Chiropractic care on site?

It was important the Council got this right. Chiropractic could easily be denied. Dr. Ellen Coyne got it done. And for the first time in history, the American Red Cross worked with a Chiropractic organization, the New York Chiropractic Council, as part of disaster relief.

Dr Coyne served as the Chiropractic Coordinator to the nationwide participants and provided licensing and malpractice credentialing to approximately 1500 D.C.’s. The Red Cross provided the next credential: the high security badge.

But did it matter? At a crime scene, what could Chiropractors do?

…Over the course of eight months, close to two million tons of debris were removed from Ground Zero. The chiropractors played an important role in this incredible feat. Your professional treatment of thousands of rescue workers helped all who were involved in the recovery efforts to persevere. You are among the many quiet heroes of September 11th whose contributions will not be forgotten.
-Raymond W. Kelly, The Police Commissioner, City of New York, Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy
The purpose of Chiropractors at Ground Zero was service. Over $1.5 million in Chiropractic care was donated, and DC’s adjusted at up to five respite sites, 24 hours per day, from 09/28/01 to 05/30/02, when all work at Ground Zero was completed.

The 1500 Chiropractors who served could have stayed home, watched the news, and sighed “Oh, that’s too bad.” But they knew care was needed. It took personal courage to go, the scene was pretty awful. They provided Chiropractic in the field, light in a place of darkness.

I was allowed to set a table up close to the rubble, but not without a hard hat and a mask. It was here I met Mark on my table. He came from California to volunteer and had been at the site since the beginning working as a specialized digger (mole). He told me he had been recovering human remains all week. I’ll never forget his eyes and his smile when he handed me a cigar and told me it was for when he found a live one – which he promised he would do. His smile couldn’t hide what his eyes revealed. I connected with a suffering, tired soul.
-Dr. Anthony Caliendo, DC, Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy
To create the story I researched every avenue: looked for photos, poured through stories appearing in the Chiropractic trades, and contacted Dr. John Przybylak, D.C. for a first hand account. I worked to get this out into the world, absolute, irreversible, and counted.

I wondered who would see it, what would happen, who would care?

My research discovered that Chiropractic’s efforts were already noticed. A commentary by the Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Rebel Food, Renegade Supplies: Convergence after the World Trade Center Attack recognized Chiropractic for its collaboration with the Red Cross. They witnessed that Chiropractic produced no management issues and offered a specific skill that was useful, performing spinal adjustments.

Finally the article was completed and published, in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR), on 04/19/04: “Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy: The Chiropractic Relief Efforts at Ground Zero,” by Drs. John Przybylak and Madeline Behrendt, D.C., with photos contributed by Drs. Glenn Scarpelli and Gary Deutchman.

I created a press release, which the World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA), publishers of JVSR, posted on a leading newswire service for journalists, media professionals, P.R. firms, government agencies, research institutes, non-profits, and medical schools.

Again I wondered: Who will see it, what will happen, who will care?

People cared. The press release was ranked #1 on Newswise Top Hits report for June 2004 MedNews Stories. It was the leader in number of hits, over medical press releases about electronic brains, memory loss, or calorie burning.

To all the Chiropractors who served at Ground Zero, thank you, your exceptional performance is the story. To all those serving in sites of disaster around this world – thank you, your story deserves to be told.

What if I told you there is a Chiropractic story more popular than news about real electronic brains, or medical stories from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard, is that something you might be interested in? Is that a story you’d like to create?

Could you? Would you? Do it.

Audiences want the Chiropractic story – tell yours.

“The most amazing thing was the gratitude that a fireman expressed. It was obvious that he had been at Ground Zero for days. He looked numb, fatigued and completely worn out. His spine was ready for any kindness that I could offer…he offered to pay for the service…Amazing…God bless people like this man. ” Dr. Andrew DeWitt, DC,. Chiropractic Rescue and the American Tragedy
Write it, film it, blog it, screen it.
Because for Anything, Nothing, and Everything – there is Chiropractic.

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Dr. Madeline Behrendt is an award winning chiropractor whose work travels the worlds of fashion, film, research, media, and policy. Behrendt’s expertise includes Women’s Wellness, especially fertility, as well as support for Creative talent. Moving between the city, the shore, and the mountains, Behrendt is licensed in New York, New Jersey, and Idaho. @ 9:19 am | Article ID: 1314116419